\u201cMom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party.\u201d This is the opening line from the song Merry Christmas From the Family by Robert Earl Keen that has become an alt-country holiday classic. It invites listeners into a home that may be all too familiar. The song itself is considered comedic with its lines: Brother Ken brought his kids with him The three from his first wife Lynn And the two identical twins from his second wife Mary Nell Of course he brought his new wife Kay Who talks all about AA Chain-smoking while the stereo plays Noel, Noel The First Noel. Listening to it, it\u2019s easy to laugh at the stereotypes of folks just having a good time as they celebrate the holidays in time-honored ways. What might it be like for someone in recovery to visit family whose lifestyle they left behind in favor of one that is more health conscious? This is a question that many face as the holidays roll around. Some who have decided to forgo traditional \u201choliday spirits\u201d may even choose to stay home rather than make the trek to family festivities. The reasons are many. \tFamily members and friends may question why the person is holding a glass of ginger ale rather than gin. \tThere may be undue pressure to indulge. \tFor someone who is in early stage recovery, the temptation to join the crowd may be excessive. \tThey may feel like the odd man or woman out and succumb in order to fit in. \tThey may not yet have revealed their sobriety. Holidays Are Not Always Jolly As much as we would like to maintain a festive perspective, the holidays bring with them the pressure to overspend, overindulge and overextend that can lead to the slippery slope of relapse. \tGrief over loss may be more pronounced. It will likely be additionally painful if a loved one passed around the holidays. \tFor some who are isolated, seeing others celebrating may intensify the loneliness. \tLong-standing family conflicts may come to the fore and when substances are present, they may be exacerbated. \tFinances can be strained if one is trying to keep up with societal expectations. \tThey may be reminded of traumatic incidents that occurred at that time. Some Tried and True Ways to Keep Your Holidays Merry and Bright \tCome clean with family and friends. \tSince the winter holidays are about miracles, recognize that your recovery fits into that category. \tGet sufficient sleep, so your resistance to illness and temptation is bolstered. \tPlan your own drug- and alcohol-free party. \tIf you are flying, and the person next to you orders a drink, be sure to order something non-alcoholic and distract yourself with reading or music. \tAvoid airport bars. \tTake drug- and alcohol-free vacations. \tProvide good self-care. If you have a regular exercise, eating and sleeping routine, continue with it. \tTake a walk in nature to clear your head if you are in a situation where you are tempted to indulge. \tDesign new holiday traditions that don\u2019t involve substances. \tKnow that you have the right to say no. You need not attend every party to which you are invited. \tIf money is limited, give of your time and attention or make presents. \tContemplate the meaning of the holidays for yourself. \tKnow that you need not meet anyone else\u2019s expectations for perfection. \tRealize that some of the \u201cgood old days\u201d for which you may be nostalgic were not always good. \tDon\u2019t attempt to argue with someone who has been drinking or using, especially in a high-stress situation. \tRemember the acronym HALT and be aware of when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, since you may be more vulnerable then. \tWrite a letter to yourself as if it is after the fact in which you describe how you stayed sober. \tAvoid overeating and walk away from the table with a small plate if food is an addiction. \tIf you have quit smoking, it may be difficult to be around those who are still engaging in the habit, so create a plan for that as well. \tIf you attend a party with those who are drinking, elect yourself the designated driver rather than getting into the car with an intoxicated driver. \t Have an attitude of gratitude and make a list of what you have appreciated in the past year. \tPour your own beverage and hold onto it. \tGo to gatherings with a sober friend or family member. \tHave phone numbers of sober supports. Use them if you have to. \tBookending: call your sponsor or another accountability partner prior to and following a party. \tGo to a meeting before and after if need be. \tIf you are traveling, have a list of nearby meetings. \tHave an exit strategy if the pressure to use becomes severe. Whether you trim the Christmas tree, light a Hanukkah menorah or a kinara at Kwanzaa, celebrate your recovery and give your loved ones the gift of a sober you.