It’s a cold, hard fact of our consumer culture that the holiday season started one minute after midnight on Halloween.
And it is not an overstatement that at some stores the pumpkin spice everything, candy canes, twinkling lights and endless carols on high volume up and down the aisles started even before Halloween….on Labor Day weekend.
That’s way of the world in 2019.
It’s a world that has mastered a commercial message about what the holiday season is all about.
That message completely ignores the essence of the season: celebrating generosity, kindness, service and a sense of something greater inviting us to be our best selves. Instead it goes for the optics that this time of year is about a perfectly happy, perfectly smiling family gathered around a dining room table with a perfectly cooked enormous turkey and all the trimmings.
A damn false world view.
Sadly, for those living in the family system disease of addiction, the disconnect between the stylized version of what the holidays are supposed to look like, and the reality of daily life is terribly deep and wide.
So many dread the coming of the days from Thanksgiving leading up to December 25th and New Year’s Day, and feel a measure of relief when January 2nd arrives. Because looking back at holiday memories before our loved ones became caught in the web of substance use disorder, and the living in the midst of that challenge is just too painful.
The surrounding atmosphere that says this season is all about sheer happiness tied up in a bright red bow can make the situation even worse. And, of course, dealing with the volatility that often occurs in a family system grappling with this disease can be very hard to manage at any time, but especially during the holiday season.
Many of us have tried hard to put on a good game face along with the turkey, pumpkin pie and a Fa La La La La.
But it is very difficult to reconcile the “perfect family” holiday image of the outside world and the terrible sense of loss we feel for our loved addicted ones, and their empty place at the table in our home.
For those facing the upcoming holidays with a heaviness of heart please know you are not alone and that others understand and care deeply about your difficult journey.
You might feel it is easier to hunker down until January. But isolation is a dangerous breeding ground for terrible loneliness.
Fellowships like Ala-Non, faith-based gatherings, online family support groups, spiritual advisors, recovery professionals, counselors, trusted family members and friends are especially good companions on the journey from November to January when most of the world seems to be making merry and your world may feel especially flat.
None of us can do this alone.
We need the Community For Each Other – in whatever unique form that takes – to help navigate the rough stretches of road inherent at this time of year.
This Community For Each Other understands the essence of the season: the power of the light of hope illuminating the darkest and coldest time of year. The light whose glow helps us take the next step and the next step and the next step on this path.
As we enter this season, know with great certainty that the intention for the light of hope to illuminate your life and the lives of your loved ones is closely held by countless others in the community we share with each.
For information and guidance for help and resources for you or your loved one please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy is co-author of Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message. Available on Amazon.com