First Sober Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is a time for great joy. We get together with loved ones and celebrate the holiday and everything it represents. Families gather to cook, watch football, and share traditions that have been passed down for generations. We catch up with friends we haven’t seen in awhile, and we express blessings for the coming year.


But the holidays can be stressful, and if this is your first Thanksgiving since getting sober, you may be worried about how you are going to survive the holiday without drinking. Your memories of past Thanksgiving might be filled with drinking mimosas all morning while preparing the food, or drinking a bottle of wine while you carved the bird. Maybe the stress of that cranky relative had you slamming a 12 pack in the pantry.


You will have to get through many firsts during sobriety. That’s just part of the deal.  The holidays are going to happen. Life happens. But you are stronger than you think you are, remember that.


Here are some tips on surviving your first Thanksgiving sober:


1. Avoid Stressful Situations


Your sobriety comes first. If you are invited to a family dinner that you are certain will be so stressful that it could risk your sobriety, turn the invitation down. It’s ok to say no, they will get over it. The people who really love you will understand. They probably don’t want to be around your crazy cousin either.


2. Stay Positive


Family dinners naturally come with certain expectations that are rooted in experience. Our minds can focus on negative experiences and picture them reoccurring. This in itself can cause you lots of needless stress. So, try not to think about how certain relatives may act and what they may say to you. Do not prepare yourself for the worst. Instead, try to think as positively as possible.


3. Hit a meeting


If you have a 12-step meeting scheduled on or just before the holiday, do not skip it. Remember, your health takes priority over everything else. You will also find strength from others who will be dealing with the very same anxieties and stresses you will be experiencing. Often, various fellowships run meetings 24 hours a day during the holidays. Surround yourself with love and support.


4. Sit at the kids table


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There is a 100% chance that there won’t be bottles of wine at the kids table. And it’s a good opportunity to spend time with the kiddos. There is something sweet and magical about the innocence of children and you will probably have more fun sitting with them than you would sitting with the adults.


5.  Be of Service


No doubt in the past you created havoc and untold messes. You probably weren’t very helpful either. So, jump in and peel those potatoes. Don’t burn the turkey. Volunteer to keep the kids busy while the rest of the family is setting up. Cut the pie and serve dessert.  Offer to clean up after the meal.


6. Have Your Own Transportation


While you should not go into the evening expecting something negative to happen, you should at least be prepared. Make sure that you have transportation, so that you can leave at any time. If you do not have a car, make sure you that you have access to Uber or Lyft, or that you have enough money to pay for a cab. You could also make arrangements for a friend to pick you up if needed.

7. Gratitude


Thanksgiving really matters in recovery. The success of our sobriety depends on the extent of our gratitude. Being grateful keeps us humble and hopeful. Give thanks with a grateful heart for your sobriety. Count your blessings. 


Getting sober is a chance for a new beginning. You can create new traditions and healthy memories. And since you won’t be passed out after getting blackout drunk, you will actually get to enjoy them. Of course, crashing after excessive turkey consumption is normal and encouraged.


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