None of my friends, Christian or not, are offended by this greeting, hopefully neither or you. I address my Jewish friends, some of whom are in recovery, (yes, there are Jewish addicts), with celebration-appropriate greetings, too.
For Christians, remembering the meaning of the day can be part of the celebration, enhancing our relationship with God. For those who are Christian and in recovery, consciously building on Steps Two, Three and Eleven during this holiday (Holy Day) is a wonderful opportunity. If we have worked Steps Two and Three, we have begun to develop a relationship with a God of our understanding and in Step Eleven we consciously improve our contact with our Higher Power. Important Steps for all of us, religious or not!
Besides the religious meaning, Christmas has some wonderful secular implications for those of any religion and belief as well as those who hold to no religion. The concepts of “Peace on Earth” and “Good Will Toward Men” are in the forefront. For many, there is something magical about the season. Stores are crowded, children are excited and more people than usual are smiling and greeting friends and strangers alike. Cookies and other treats are offered everywhere.
This is a time of year when many people give to charities, often helping a specific group or individual. As we progress in recovery, we begin to be able to give instead of only taking. In early recovery, or while still using, we may doubt our worth…to ourselves and to others. Conversely, we may be rather egotistical and believe, on some level, that we are better than others. Either way, we are stuck, not able initially to get out of ourselves and find the joy of helping others. Recovery allows discovery. I know this is true because I have an old sweatshirt from an NA convention that says, “Recovery is Discovery”. J Giving, either material goods or of ourselves, our time and energy, feels good. We seem to get more than we give. The fear of not having enough dissipates as we realize we do have plenty for ourselves as well as something to give; there are always those less fortunate, in many ways. Some groups (or individuals) adopt a needy family and provide food, gifts, clothing etc. for them. While a one-time gift, this expression of generosity is meaningful to the recipient and a terrific lesson to the giver. Hopefully the giver will continue to give after the Christmas season ends.
Since we know this is a stressful time of year, one in which many alcoholics and addicts relapse, become more depressed or even suicide, we need to use all tools at our disposal to take care of ourselves. It turns out that focusing on others, giving and getting out of ourselves is a great way to take care of ourselves. Who knew? Actually, those who are ahead of us in recovery know a lot of stuff we don’t. Hmmm. Those who are ahead of us in life do, too. Ever heard, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”?
Years ago, a group of us who cleaned up together volunteered to help with a handicapped ski program at a local ski area. What a trip! Often a dozen of us would drive the hour and a half from Denver to the ski area, piled into two or more cars, and spend the day helping everyone from blind skiers (yes!) to amputees to children with Cerebral Palsy. Each would ski at whatever level they could. Some were tethered to one of us, or to a coach, some were pulled on sleds. Functioning as buddies more than instructors, we looked at each other with tears often streaming down our faces and in amazement: we were helping those less fortunate than ourselves! We have something to give!
Remember to use the Steps, to stay in touch with your Higher Power, and discover what you can give. I bet it’s more than you realize!