Day 21 of HIKMT’s 25 Ways in 25 Days to celebrate Christmas

Today’s tip comes from Lauren Goodkin,  an addict in recovery with over ten years of experience in the field of addiction.

Survival of the Lonely: Creating Your Own Holiday in Early Recovery

Perhaps there is no worse time of year for addicts than the holidays. Some of us are faking it, trying not to let our families see how our addiction has devastated us over the course of the year. Some of us are simply not invited anymore, despite being in recovery, and for many years that was the case for me.

My poor mother, my personal angel, had to make the heartbreaking decision of who to spend the holiday with. Would she spend it with her sister, mother, aunts and cousins, nieces and nephews? Or would she spend it with me, just the two of us, all alone in our big empty house? Eventually I just told her to go ahead and be with the family. It wasn’t her fault that I was banned from the homes of my family members, even on Christmas.

The holidays used to be my favorite time of year. After my addiction, I started to dread them. One year I spent it with my then-boyfriend’s family, and spent the morning crying in the bathroom when his mother showered his brother’s girlfriend with thoughtful gifts and I only received a $1 generic card. It seemed like nobody wanted me around, even people who didn’t know my past.

So I created my own holiday festivities and started my own traditions. Start by planning a meal with all of your favorite foods. You can cook whatever you want, whether it’s a gorgeous prime rib roast or a package of ramen noodles. That’s the beauty of it, it’s all about what makes you happy! Plan on watching a marathon of your favorite TV shows or movies. For me, it’s all about MythBusters and I cannot WAIT to settle in for a day of my favorite reruns. Buy yourself a gift. This year I treated myself to handbag from QVC, which allows you to pay for things over the course of a few months, which helps when you’re on a budget. I wrapped the box without opening it, and put a tag on it that reads “To You, From Me”. Early on, the money is always tight. Maybe all you get yourself is a simple manicure or a four pack of Monsters. Whatever it is, wrap it up and put a nice bow on it. Now you have a present to open from the person who knows you better than anyone!

Once you’ve had enough of you for the day, head out to one of the places that’s still open on Christmas. If you’re a Twelve Stepper, hit a meeting. Most communities host 24 hour meetings on Christmas, so you’re guaranteed to catch one. If that’s not your scene, hit up your local soup kitchen. Spend some time with people who may be struggling in a worse or different way than you. The best way to get outside of yourself is to help someone else.

Now years have passed by, and I am once again invited to the family holiday celebration. But to tell you the truth, I love my own traditions so much that I usually stay at home anyway. Sometimes my dad joins me for a few hours, but I still get to do it my way. I remember how lonely I felt those first years, because even though I was sober, I still wasn’t someone I wanted to be around. Today, I have a business where I coach families of addicts on how to help their child live the life that I am privileged to live today. I speak to those who also feel lost, and remind them that if they don’t want to spend Christmas with themselves, then no one else is going to want to spend it with them either. The key is in loving the person you are, and becoming the kind of person you can be proud of.

So this Christmas, I will raise a glass (of water!) to myself, to my hand work in recovery, and to my family. In banning me from holidays, they taught me how to get comfortable with me, and that may be the best give they ever gave me.

Lauren’s company, “In Angel’s Arms” offers Family Recovery Coaching, Youth Drug Education and Public Speaking Appearances. Follow her blog at and follow her on social media @angel_addicts.

Daily Reflection:

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.
— Raymond Lindquist

Coeur is the French word for “heart.” When we act with courage, we act from our hearts, not our heads alone. We boldly do what feels right. We may be scared if we’re going against the grain, but we have confidence and faith supporting our actions.

Being courageous does not require going into battle — we do not have to be saving someone’s life. It takes a lot of courage just to be honest with ourselves and others, to decide to change behaviors, and to leave destructive relationships.

Today I will pray for courage.

Shortcut to the Spirit of the Season:

Hooking yourself to an old tradition. Perhaps the toughest task people face during the holidays is finding and maintaining focus. During these demanding days, vision is fragmented, thoughts are scattered, and systems are on overload. As the clock ticks down, stress levels go up.  Many of our holiday traditions are based on symbolism. Though its tie to the season is not as nearly as old as that of most traditions, a confectioner’s creation has a history of putting the focus back on Christmas.

You too can use the candy cane in a variety of ways as you embrace it’s tie to the holiday. You can hand them out as simple treats, they make great for stocking stuffers, you can hang them on your tree, and can even be combined with the bows you place on your presents. Put a candy cane in your purse or pocket as a reminder to keep your eyes on the meaning of Christmas and with that singular focus, you will have a much more meaningful holiday season.

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