So how are you preparing for Christmas? Is this a time of good cheer, goodwill to all men (and women) time of the year for you? Or is it more a grit your teeth and hope it passes quickly time? I suspect that if you live with an alcoholic then the second scenario is more likely, for many households with an alcoholic Christmas can be a nightmare as the alcoholic spoils the festive spirit for everyone with their drunken behaviour. But it doesn’t have to be that way, here are a few tips that could banish the ghost of Christmas past and make your Christmas present a great experience for everyone.
Expect the Expected
Einstein is regularly quoted as saying “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. Do you do the same thing every Christmas and expect/hope that this year everything will turn out all right, even though the last 10 (or however many) Christmases have ended in tears. Make this Christmas different by being prepared.
Christmas is a time when most people take a drink. Even people who never take a drink all year will indulge. So it is difficult to expect an alcoholic to abstain on the one day of the year when the rest of the world drinks. It is not a realistic expectation. That does not mean that there is nothing that you can do. You can negotiate some moderation.
One possibility is to ask your drinker to compromise by not drinking until after the celebrations, for example your mother has gone, the guests have left or the kids have gone to bed. In return you will not complain about him/her drinking afterwards. It is probably unlikely that you would get an agreement to such a limiting agreement. Instead you might negotiate on a amounts or type of drinks, for example no wine or no spirits till after the celebration.
If you are out at a party or gathering with friends, there is a strong possibility of the drinker behaving in a way that you find embarrassing and shameful. If they do so try to remember that the shame does not reflect on you. Although you may be worrying what the other people at the party are thinking about you, it is wise to remember that they are not judging you. If they are judging anyone, they are judging your drinker and sympathising with you. Many of them have probably known about the problem drinking for years and may be a good source of support, if you let them help you that is.
Don’t rescue your drinker, if they are embarrassing themselves let it happen. Yes we know this seems harsh but you need to remember that if they are going to change their drinking it will be because of the negative out comes that happen. It won’t be because they are having a great time and the motivation to change may be reduced if you rescue.
If you feel the need to leave the party because of your drinker’s behaviour, or for any other reason, then leave with dignity. It is too easy to make the grand exit but, as understandable and justifiable as that may be, it only makes matters worse. Next day the drinker will not remember their bad behaviour but they will remember you storming out of the party. So, keep the high moral ground by telling your drinker that you are leaving, invite them to join you and then make your goodbyes to everyone, especially the hosts and then leave. If your drinker goes with you that’s great, if not don’t wait. You need to take back control.
Drinking and driving is a big problem at this time of year. Make sure that either you drive, or keep the car keys. It may be wise to ensure that the drinker some money for a taxi home. You can organise that before going to the party. If the drinker refuses to take the cab fare you can give the cash to the party host.
The point is to be prepared for Christmas and what it brings. Just like you would think through the ingredients for the Christmas dinner and what gifts and cards you need. The more preparation that you put into planning for the drunken behaviour, the less disappointed you are likely to be and the more peaceful your Christmas will be.
Have a happy and peaceful Christmas.
Lou and John