Many people in recovery find the Christmas season to be difficult because their previous celebrations revolved around drinking or using. It’s normal to feel a little sad about needing to stay away from activities that could pose a relapse risk during your first sober holiday season, but now is the perfect time to start making new holiday memories with traditions that support your newfound sobriety. Here, the staff at Mountain Laurel Recovery Center’s Pennsylvania drug and alcohol addiction treatment program share some fun ways you can put yourself in a festive mood all month long.
Treat Yourself to a Fun Advent Calendar
Advent calendars count down the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Traditionally, Advent calendars feature small wrapped chocolates in each opening and are given to children. Today, however, you can find Advent calendars for all ages and all interests. There are Advent calendars for artists, yoga enthusiasts, tea lovers, and more. You can even buy an Advent calendar filled with treats for your dog!
An Advent calendar helps support your sobriety during the hectic holiday season by giving you a small treat to look forward to each day. It encourages you to focus on each day as it occurs—instead of being overwhelmed by the fast pace of December. If you choose a calendar that reflects a favorite hobby or special interest, the treats can also serve as a reminder of the importance of self-care during this busy time.
Revisit the Classics
There’s a good reason why people love classic Christmas specials such as A Charlie Brown Christmas or A Christmas Story. Revisiting old favorites taps into a sense of nostalgia while providing an opportunity to make new memories with the next generation.
Host a movie marathon with your favorite Christmas movies, complete with a hot cocoa bar that includes toppings such as mini marshmallows, toffee chips, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. If you really want to go all out, encourage everyone to show up in their favorite ugly Christmas sweater or a pair of festive Christmas pajamas.
Get Crafty With Your Newfound Sobriety
Making something with your hands can be a good distraction when cravings hit, which is common to newfound sobriety. The finished project can also provide a sense of accomplishment.
The Christmas season is full of opportunities to get in touch with your crafty side. Here are some ideas that are fun for the whole family:
- Make handmade wrapping paper for your gifts.
- Make and mail handmade Christmas cards.
- Cut out paper snowflakes for your windows.
- Make ornaments for your tree.
- Make scented candles or soaps you can give as gifts.
- Create a scrapbook of past Christmas memories.
Help Others With Their Newfound Sobriety
The holiday season is the perfect time to do something nice for those in need. Helping others is also a surefire way to boost your mood and make you more appreciative of what you’ve already accomplished in your recovery. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Pick out a gift to donate to a holiday toy drive.
- Bake Christmas cookies to share with community helpers such as firemen, health care workers, or police officers.
- Create care packages with small treats such as sugar-free candies, warm socks, and decks of cards for nursing home residents or seniors in your community who might not have family and friends to celebrate with.
- Call a nearby food pantry and ask what is needed for their holiday food baskets.Participate in the holiday service projects conducted by your place of worship.
Learn More About Your Family Heritage
Knowing more about your roots can foster a greater sense of connection as you continue to progress in your recovery journey. The Christmas season is a good time to get to know more about your extended family and discover what parts of the holiday are most meaningful to them. Some questions you can ask include:
- How did you celebrate Christmas as a child?
- What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
- What is your favorite Christmas memory?
- Are there special recipes that you most associate with the holidays?
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Alternatively, you can use this time to research the different cultural Christmas traditions around the world. From Krampus Night in Southern Bavaria to the Italian tradition of hosting ‘The Feast of the Seven Fishes’ after returning home from Mass on Christmas Eve, it can be fascinating to learn more about how your ancestors may have celebrated the holiday season. If you have small children, recreating some of these traditions in your own home is an excellent way to make special memories that will be cherished for years to come.