What is a ‘normal’ Christmas to you?
As far as Christmas in the eyes of our society, it is all about presents, family gatherings and cheerful moments. However, not every child or adult has felt or feels this way during the festive season. I used to be one of them.
Being a COA (child of an alcoholic), I know the awkward situations of not having alcohol on the festive table. Not going to friends and family meals due to the fear of a parent getting drunk and embarrassing the whole family. Or not receiving a Christmas gift because your parent’s alcohol-dependency was more important.
There’s little we can do to change our parents or stop them drinking. But that doesn’t mean our Christmas should be ruined because of that. I can’t hide the fact that COAs’ Christmases are different than the society wants us to believe they should be.
Our Christmas shouldn’t be ruined
Who sets the rules for what a ‘normal’ Christmas is? Is there even a definition for a ‘normal’ Christmas? I don’t think so. So why don’t we start celebrating Christmas our own way? The way that feels normal to us?
I celebrate my Christmas not only with my family of blood but also with my family of choice: my friends and loved ones. The ones I can be myself without feeling tense or having to deal with family drama.
I am also happy to avoid drinking alcohol when my co-dependent parent is around. Instead, I can later gather with my friends and have some drinks while enjoying their company.
When it comes to presents, I have also realised with years and experience that the biggest gift for me is being happy, healthy, and loved. Don’t get me wrong, I love a present. But often my biggest present is having food on the table and my loved ones alive and healthy.
I have learned to show gratitude
I have learned to show gratitude and I have a wonderful technique to keep me humble and positive. It only takes few minutes daily and the only requirement is to be grateful for three things that have made your day.
This can be as small as having a gingerbread latte during a busy morning or as big as going to a Christmas Market and seeing the lights on. It also helps me to have a circle of support around – friends, people I trust and a counsellor, if needed. I know I can always talk to someone outside my family circle therefore, breaking the co-dependency cycle.
Not all the wishes can be made true, especially when it comes to your parent/s stopping drinking. But the earlier we realise how little we have control about it the quicker we can start wishing about something that can be made true – such as having a Christmas that feels normal to you.
Remember you are not alone and sometimes the hardest but most rewarding thing you can gift yourself is being vulnerable, opening up to a trusted one and starting to live life the way you want it.
Merry Christmas from a COA that is slowly, but gratefully, healing.
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