“I’ve spent so many years away from my family on Christmas, not even thinking of them for a second. Just selfishly giving in to my addiction and pretending like they didn’t exist. Thinking it was better if I just stayed away from them. But now that I am sober, I want so badly to see them, and be with them, and hug them on Christmas, and I can’t because I’m halfway across the country. I didn’t get sober so I could continue to feel so alone, ya know?”
I was sitting on the patio at Starbucks with a young woman, who was pouring her heart out to me. It was freezing, and my white chocolate mocha was doing nothing to warm me. Quite suddenly, I remembered something that other people had taught me in sobriety. It is vital to my sobriety and my survival that I build myself a family of renegade alcoholics, just like myself, to rely on. Without thinking, I extended to her an invitation to join my family for Christmas.
I had never hosted a holiday dinner at my own home before. That was Grandma or Mom’s job. Why shouldn’t I though? I had finally reached a point in sobriety where I had a home, and was financially (and emotionally) stable enough to host a big holiday dinner. So, I jumped into planning head first, and let me tell you … it was not pretty. I was PETRIFIED. Everything had to be perfect, and yet I knew that perfect was unattainable. Hell, I didn’t even know how to cook a ham, but off I went into the far depths of the internet, with determination and love in my heart. Here is everything I learned about hosting a Christmas dinner for friends and family.
1. Stick to easy recipes.
There is absolutely no need to put added stress on yourself just because one person needs a pecan pie. Those are REALLY hard to make. Legitimately, I almost had a psychotic break over the fact that my pecan pie was “soupy”. Stick to apple or pumpkin.
2. When people offer assistance, accept it.
I fell into a strange ego trip, and wanted to do everything myself. The most important part of Christmas is coming together! Its not about proving yourself, or showing everyone that you are capable. Accept help when it is offered, and delegate small jobs to people who need to be a part of something.
3. Use the dollar store.
I’m not even kidding. All of our decorations, and plenty of the ingredients we used came from the dollar store. I saved so much money, and the house looked extra Christmasy! I was even able to get tiny gifts so that everyone would have something to unwrap on Christmas day. No one is asking you to spend a thousand dollars on light up snowmen from target who sing and dance. The thought is what counts.
4. Paper plates and tin foil cooking dishes will save your life.
We had a total of 26 people over that night for Christmas. At the time, I owned 6 plates and a couple mismatched bowls. It was suggested to me to use paper plates, and my response was, “ FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER ARE YOU CRAZY?!” To which my ever sane and logical mother replied, “ The food wont taste any different on paper plates, Aly.” So off I went to the dollar store for red and green paper plates. Guess what? No one cared, and I cut the clean up time in HALF.
5. Delegate someone to take photos.
Between checking on the food every 36 seconds, conversing with everyone to make them feel welcome, and handing out Christmas gifts, I didn’t take a single photo that day. I was overwhelmed with joy when my mom sent me a scrapbook with tons of photos in it a week later titled, “ A Costa Mesa Christmas”. It meant the world to me, and I cherish it by leaving it on the coffee table every year, for everyone to see our first Christmas special.
My final tip is the one thing that kept me sane through the whole experience. Look at your feet, their exact placement on this planet, and then slowly and calmly gaze at the smiling faces of everyone around you. Where are you? Among friends and family. I had to take many moments to stop, reflect, and feel gratitude. Calmness flowed over me, and I redirected my thoughts to that of service. I chose to show gratitude by being of service to my family and friends, instead of letting my fears and perfectionism get the best of me. When I mixed it all together, it became the recipe for a very merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas from all of us at Nerdy Sober Hipsters!