When I was folding up the paper bag from my newly purchased bottle of Pinot Grigio, the image of an elephant caught my attention. I thought it had something to do with Africa, but it turned out to be a message about drinking and driving. It was a sobering moment. It got me thinking about how holidays can be an unhappy time for families living with alcoholism.
Holidays and celebrations are often equated with drinking and for some, it means living with parents or spouses who start drinking early on - and keep on drinking until later on. Anxiety can start to creep in at the sight of the liquor bottle on the counter or the drinker having an early morning sip of some of "the hair of the dog that bit them" (supposedly a cure for a hangover).
It got me thinking about how for many -- Christmas is probably a lonely, sad time of year. I am blessed with an incredibly large, loving clan which means the "small" Christmas gatherings we have every second year still guarantee at least 14 at the table. I have friends that do not have the benefit of a family of such size - and it reminds me not to take mine for granted. There are people who have recently received bad news or lost a loved one, and for them, Christmas may feel hollow and sad. My family had a Christmas like that in 1997.
My Mom passed away a week after her 58th birthday - December 5th. I had small children so needless to say, Christmas went on as usual - as normal as I could possibly make it. My sisters and brother and I did not come together as we traditionally would -- instead we spent quiet time with our respective spouses and children. I think we were all still numb from the funeral and the reality of the loss hadn't fully sunk in. I was writing funeral thank you notes at the same time I was making out my Christmas cards. Surreal.
With the economic pressures on people, the wars being fought, the families being separated, I imagine that this time of year will be a source of stress and pain for many. They need to be remembered; they need people to reach out in love to them; they need the gifts of understanding and caring.
So as I immerse myself in the Christmas joy that is mine -- I will reflect on and remember those who are wrestling with their own challenges, fighting the good fight - and it will deepen my gratitude for all that I have and who I love in my life. And to anyone for whom Christmas won't be merry -- I will wish you peace.