Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Coping with Christmas Sober (Part 3)

How and when did Christmas get so associated with vast amounts of boozing?

It's not as if the three wise men turned up at the stable with frankincense, myrrh and a magnum of Bollinger.

To bastardise an expression that Noel Gallagher once used to describe his brother Liam: staying sober at Christmas feels like being a man with a fork in a world of soup.

Enough already! (And it goes on until January 1st).

Yesterday the whole family SM went to see the new Star Wars movie.

(If you haven't been then GO NOW! It's brilliant. All the best bits of the first trilogy, plus a sense of humour. Look out for Daniel Craig's inspired cameo as a Storm Trooper).

It struck me that when you watch a movie set in the present day everybody is drinking away. BUT all those movies set in the future - nobody drinks.

You don't see kickass heroine Rey cracking open the champagne to celebrate blowing up an enemy stronghold.

Or Katniss Everdene holding glass of vino in one hand, crossbow in the other. (Admittedly, Haymitch drinks, but that's clearly portrayed as a result of his metal health issues).

Why? Because if we were designing a future society from scratch why on earth would we introduce a horribly addictive substance that caused anxiety, depression and affected our speech, balance and cognitive ability as a good way to celebrate?

Alcohol is actually a pretty lazy way of celebrating. It's a sort of one-size-fits-all solution. Whatever the occasion we crack open a bottle and use it to deaden all our senses and impair our ability to remember the event. Where's the sense in that?

I was thinking about how the children celebrate their birthdays.

They have their name read out in assembly and get to wear a special badge. Everyone sings them a song and gives them the bumps (actually, I think health and safety stopped that one years ago).

They get high on sugar and have a party where they play silly games with all their friends. They get given presents. They have the best day ever without the need for any alcohol at all.

Then, as we get older, we ditch all the extraneous rituals and end up with just lots of people getting drunk.

It struck me that when we quit the booze, we need to find more, diverse ways to celebrate stuff.

Then I started to wonder how non-drinking religions celebrate.

Eid al-Fitr is the Muslim version of Christmas, the celebration of the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Like Christmas, celebrating Eid involves communal prayers, lots of food (particularly sweets) shared with family and friends, and giving and receiving of presents.

BUT no getting trashed, accidentally insulting the in-laws or passing out and snoring in front of the Queen's speech.

There are, however, two other Eid traditions: one is buying yourself new clothes, so you can look your best for the event. And the other is that every Muslim who can afford to do so is obliged to give to the poor (the equivalent of the cost of a meal).

This sounds like a jolly good idea to me. Whenever you have something to celebrate why not treat yourself to something new, and give to someone who can't afford to do the same?

So today I went a bit crazy. On my way home from the tube station I gave £20 to the homeless man who's been living in a cardboard box on the Fulham Road for weeks. I gave £20 to the Big Issue seller, and I gave £20 to the postman (to make up for being barked at by the terrier all year).

And you know what? It felt way better than downing a glass of vino. Try it.

Tomorrow I have my last session of radiotherapy, and after that I'm going shopping for me.

Then I have to stop, before the bank manager (and Mr SM) has a heart attack.

Happy Christmas everyone!

SM x


  1. Happy Christmas to you, too. Thank you for your honesty and wit. Annie x

  2. Am actually getting really excited about Christmas. Am glad I'll last the pace and not be trying to pace myself or watching the bottle checking there's plenty left. I don't usually remember going to bed on christmas night! I will this year and am so happy about that. I think boxing day will be trickier as it's our family tradition to let the women put their feet up and have few drinks and a break from the kids and cooking. Have offered to cook and drive - that's my goodwill contribution! Trying not to just want it all over and go with the flow - thanks for that tip! I hope you are feeling well and wish you a very happy shopping trip x

  3. I love this idea. I can't wait to start getting the "feel goods" once my sobriety really kicks in. And thankyou so much for visiting my fledgeling blog . You've been my hero of 2016, so it means a lot! Xx

    1. It's a great blog: www.redrecovers.wordpress.com

  4. I love it. I have a policy of giving to anyone who asks, as long as they are polite and non intimidating.

    as a person who has both mental health and addiction issues, suddenly people on the street just don't seem all that different than me. I'm just fortunate to have grown up with support a dough to make my own success.

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  6. I've been getting high on sugar for the past three weeks now, maybe I should try the giving and the new clothes instead. Your blog has been a huge encouragement and I'd never have guessed I'd be looking forward to a AF Christmas, so thank you for that. Have a great shopping trip!