As the holidays near, I am reminded that my home and life were never of the holiday-greeting-card-TV-movie variety. While I was growing up, alcoholism always lingered, waiting to rear its head as family and friends gathered around tables of food, laughter, and plenty of mixed alcoholic drinks.

Fast-forward to having my own gatherings of family, friends, laughter, food, and of course, plenty of alcohol, and the holidays continued to become even more tarnished. Broken promises and dishes; no-shows to parties or events due to embarrassment; no longer being invited to events because of rude, loud, falling-down-drunk episodes—these all took a turn as to how I anticipated the holidays. Add in the deaths of family members and a spouse whose birthday was right before the holidays, and it was a recipe for disaster.

I thank God every day that I was introduced to the program and the members of Al‑Anon Family Groups. I still don’t have a greeting-card-movie-kind-of-home, but today there is laughter, there is gratitude for what I do have, and there is love and kindness shown by those in my circle of friends and family.

The difference? I have choices today that I did not know I had before Al-Anon. I no longer have to show up at, or participate in, events where there is the potential for drunken episodes. I am more accepting of myself, people, and events. They will be exactly the way they will be. Today, I welcome the parts of the holidays that I enjoy—the beautiful decorations, the lights, the great holiday music of my childhood, and the gathering of friends and family without alcohol. Giving of my time, lending a hand, receiving hugs, and sharing smiles are gifts worth more than anything I could find in a retail store. Today, I welcome the holidays with the new attitude I found in Al-Anon.

By Cathy A., California

The Forum, December 2020

Feel free to reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.