Some more Christmas and New Years inspiration for you – this post comes from @_jjw_, a smart and lovely kiwi dude, and brave sober warrior.
@_jjw_:This is my fourth sober Christmas. While many of us people who gave up drinking wait until after Christmas and New Years to put down the bottle, I launched my sobriety a little bit earlier in December. It was a bit of a weird time. I hadn’t told my parentals why I wasn’t drinking, just that I was off the booze. While perplexed they were supportive. More on that first Sobermas in a second.
Christmas and New Years are intimidating times for the person who has sworn off alcohol. There is so much ‘festive cheer’ being knocked back and stressful situations abound: family, friends, money worries, other social pressures… the list goes on. But I’ll let you into a little secret: you don’t actually have to drink. Santa Claus will still come if you don’t leave the beers out for him. The chook will still get cooked without the glass of sav in your hand, and Boxing Day can be memorable rather than miserable.
So there I was. First Christmas sober. At my parents. Away from my pals and girlfriend of the time. It was a decent day for New Plymouth. People were drinking bubbly and beer in the sun. I was on the Ginger Beer and Dr Pepper (one of my vices). At first it didn’t seem right. But then my mind flashed back to a previous Christmas where I had drunk too much and it didn’t end well [grizzly details omitted for your reading pleasure]. Ah. Well, better to be sober than causing a scene, right? Right.
I white knuckled it through the first one. I disappeared for a while to be alone and get out of the humdrum. The second was easier. I had explained why I wasn’t drinking, made sure there were better drinks, and everyone rolled with it. A glass of elderflower cordial is so much better than sickly bubbles anyway.
New Years is different. Instead of being family oriented, it is – at least for people in their 20s – a pretty decent excuse to get on the turps generally just for the sake of getting on the turps.
Because of this, adjusting to New Years for me really meant going out of my way to figure out a new way of doing things, a new cheers!
The first New Years I spent in Rotorua with my then girlfriend. We made activities and played games and watched the fireworks from the back yard. Really low key. I’m not even sure we stayed up that late. There was definitely no drinking anything other than perhaps L&P.
Last year we went to Whangamatta. Yeah. The hot spot for teenage binge drinking. But it was actually pretty awesome. I went there with my now fiancee, and we stayed with a close friend of ours. Midnight was spent lying on the beach star gazing while wrapped in a blanket.
This was a complete switcheroo for a guy who one NYE spewing on the dance floor of a bar in Wellington well before midnight.
So while it can be done, it’s not easy. What worked for me was planning and preparing a little bit for the coming days. I braced myself for a huge impact, but it turned out to only be a knee high wave that hit.
Here are some Sobermass and New Cheers tips:
– Make sure people know that you’re not drinking, but don’t go over the top to make a point of it.
– Ensure there are delicious non-alcohol beverages of your choice available.
– If you do start to get stressed out by that creepy relation: remember drinking is only going to make things worse. Dealing with family issues is easier with a sober mind, even if they have been drinking.
– If you don’t feel like you can stick around then it’s okay to leave or hide away somewhere. Hopefully it will be sunny and you can go for a walk around the block, if not, hop in the car and listen to some angry music. Get it out and come back.
– Pick where you’re going to be on New Years Eve, don’t hang around in a bar.
– Plan to do something awesome on Boxing Day and New Years day so that there is an incentive to wake up without a hangover.