Can you feel it in the air? Temperatures dropping as the fall winds begin to usher in our winter season ~ The faint aroma of chimney smoke as it escapes into the night air; Sweaters being retrieved from summer hibernation, with their soft and encompassing warmth; Snuggling up to the one you love with popcorn and a soft blanket for a night of movies; The wafting smell of hot cocoa as it rests between your hands causing your senses to anticipate that warm chocolate heaven rolling across your pallet; Enjoying the feeling of being completely enveloped under a billowy down comforter which escorts one into a blissful nights sleep; The joy of a favorite winter chili or stew which never fails to provide a lingering warmth in the belly; or the excitement of college football and anticipation of the playoffs drawing closer still… Yes, these are but a few of the experiences we all have in one form or another, igniting in our conscious minds a reminder that the holiday season is drawing ever near.
For some, this leads to a sense of joy, excitement and anticipation – while for others it evokes feelings of anxiety, guilt or remorse due to the memory of holidays past where active addiction/alcoholism may have caused undo pain and sorrow for those whom we love and have held most dear. But no matter what feelings or circumstances are being experienced as the approaching holidays arrive ~ for ALL of us a genuine gladness and gratitude can be embraced. Why? (You might ask) Well, we need only look at the immediate blessings that exist before us:
Let’s start with the good news that this is a NEW season ~~ the years past are just that, “season’s gone by”. Recovery, (as in life), affords us the opportunity to have a “do over” or to “start a new”. The past holiday season could have been absolutely terrible…but that was last year. THIS is a new day and can truly be the beginning of fresh and wonderful memories! Some ask how they can be happy because, “I am not even with my family” or “I don’t have my home anymore” or “I have lost my job”. This does not mean that this season can’t be filled with beautiful and lasting memories. Let’s look at some of the things we can say ~ I am in recovery! I belong to a fellowship of great people, many of whom are dear friends. I have, (God willing), literally YEARS ahead of me – things WILL get better! (How do I know that?) Because if we are clean/sober and are practicing a program of recovery we find that we are NEVER alone again and while in ourselves we are limited and finite…we belong to a God that is infinite.
We are alive! It is the easiest of blessings to take for granted. I need only go out into the cool night air – feeling the breeze blowing through my hair and against my face, gazing upon the moon and stars as they cast their subtle light upon me, breathing in through my nostrils the coolness of night and hearing the earth as it gives way beneath my feat as I take in my surroundings on a late night stroll. It is in this moment that my mind becomes profoundly aware of the greatest gift, the most tremendous of blessings, causing my heart and mind cry out to my God ~ “Thank you that I am alive!”
One Christmas that remains forever in my memory as being among the most meaningful was spent at a Girl’s Home in Marbury, AL – separated from family, with no place of my own, no job and no money or means to buy gifts. Instead I drew close to the other young women who lived there as we shared our sadness, as well as some of our happier and even funny memories of younger years. We each secretly had one person among us to have as a sort of “secret Santa” and for both the week leading up to Christmas and Christmas day – we would provide special gifts in secret until the “big reveal”. With no money, creativity was a must. Some gifts were hand made, some were chores that were covered, and some were letters of gratitude for their many attributes. For my family, I made gifts by hand which required much more “thought” than going to a mall and making a purchase ever had. We read stories on Christmas Eve, drank hot cocoa, laughed and talked. It will forever be a very treasured memory.
The holidays are a time that symbolizes gratitude, goodwill and the promise of a future yet to come. No matter what our circumstances may be, there are many things that can be done to have the very BEST holiday season ever! A principle we learn early on in recovery is that “self” is the root of our problems and that “selflessness” is where our solution lies. Well, you know the saying, “We keep what we have by giving it away”? Along those lines there is another principle I have found to be true – “To get what we’ve never gotten or get back what we lost along the way ~ we have only to get out of ourselves and try something new!”
Here are some suggestions for making this the BEST holiday season EVER!
What a wondrous life! The opportunity for a fresh start to live again…not one that we “deserved”, but rather one that was freely given to us. One of the most tremendous gifts I believe we have been given is in being blessed with KNOWING our “life’s purpose”…(at least one of them). A lot of people in this world go to the grave wondering why they were put on this earth in the first place and never getting that answer. WE know at least one incredible purpose! It is something that will lift me up and I can do anytime ~ and that is to be a vessel for my Higher Power and offer my hand to another sick and suffering addict/alcoholic sharing with them the solution I have found by way of my experience, strength and hope. How incredible is that?!! That someone like me with a medical prognosis at 19, that I needed to live in a group home, be put on disability and could never function independently – to being someone that the God of the Universe would actually use to provide hope, love joy and a working solution that would change the lives of the hopeless!
It is my most sincere and heart felt wish that this holiday season will be your very best. God bless you all!
© 2008-2013 Rebecca Balko