A Sober Xmas

This year will be my second Xmas since I kicked the booze – and I seem to remember last year wasn’t entirely without struggle. I didn’t cave in and drink, but I had a few near-misses due to being at a family wedding between Xmas and New Year. I was still relatively fresh off the beertrain (toot toot), and my brother was getting married on a huge old posh estate in North Yorkshire. This was an awesome event not only because I got to witness my bro marrying the love of his life – but also because it was my first time seeing my family since I moved down south(ish) a few months prior. Also, there were family members and friends there that I’d not seen in YEARS. It was time for celebrating, partying, and catching-up with old acquaintances. This kind of socialising comes naturally to me after a few beers – but there I was talking to loud, brash, confident uncles – trying to stutter my way through the reasons that I only wanted a diet coke, please.

I stood firm. There was never any doubt that I would. That’s the difference with quitting drink when YOU KNOW it’s time, versus quitting when you’re TOLD it’s time. When you know it’s time, you know it’s time. If you need any reminders – just recall that time when you got smashed on Bucky and punched your nan.

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Xmas itself was a doddle last year. I spent Xmas day with my missus and her family, who aren’t drinkers. For New Years Eve I was keen to avoid booze temptation, so instead of hitting a huge party we just went out to a local restaurant and ate like kings. I think I was in bed before midnight.

This year I’ll be spending Xmas with the missus’ family again, before heading up north to see my family in Mirfield on Xmas day evening. I can’t pretend I’m not MASSIVELY excited to see my eldest nephew’s face when he sees the giant Stormtrooper I bought him. It’s fucking massive.

After a couple of nights with my family we’ll be heading off to spend 2 nights in the Peak District, in the little village where we’ll be getting married next year. Menus to sort out, rooms to measure, hills to climb, pies to eat.

For NYE we’re going back to the same pub we ate at last year, and this time we’re dragging some mates along. It’s a million miles from the NYE’s I had as a drinker, and I do miss the parties – but I don’t miss the shitty hangovers and empty bank accounts. On New Year’s Day we’ll get up early and spend the day in Brighton. Sea air and a clear head, as we prepare for the immense plans looming for 2017. Marriage, mucky gigs (oh shit son I’ve just got tickets to see Guns ‘n Roses!), more outdoor climbing, my first half-marathon, filthy music projects, and I’m launching a whole new blog series. Stuff I’m excited about.

If you’re planning on spending the Xmas period sober, then here are a few pointers which work for me:

  • Make plans. The Xmas period usually means a lot of time spent at home, and this leads to boredom which leads to drinking. Make plans to meet friends, get to the cinema, go shopping, visit the coast. If you’re a boredom drinker (like me) then it’s important to stay busy.
  • Avoid temptation. This is important if you’re still at a stage of sobriety where the sight of a beer can lead to a 3-day bender. If you can’t handle being around booze, stay away from it. This might be harder than usual at Xmas, in which case see point 1 above.
  • Alcohol free booze. Not recommended if you are massively struggling with temptation, but this stuff can satisfy any small cravings, usually tastes okay, and can divert awkward questions if you pour it in to a glass. Becks Blue is one of my favourite booze-free beers, and there’s also good versions from Erdinger and Brewdog. There’s an awesome selection available at drydrinker.com.
  • Play the tape to the end. This is still the best advice I’ve ever been given. Just visualise how the next 24 hours will play out if you pick up that drink. Visualise drinks 2, 3, 4…. Visualise waking up tomorrow morning and how you’re gunna feel. Visualise trying to ride out a hangover whilst Mariah Carey comes on the radio for the 6th time this bastard morning.
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All I want for Xmas is you, Mariah, to fuck off

Think on (that’s what my grandma used to say before delivering blatantly obvious advice) – Alcohol amplifies your mood in the short term, and is a depressant in the long term. If you’re having a shit Xmas, the booze will make it even shitter. If you’re having a good time then you don’t need it.

Finally, here’s a link to an interesting news article that a mate sent me this morning. One of the comments in particular stood out for me:

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Hopefully I’ll get chance to write another blog before Xmas, but if not then I hope everyone has a great one!

Peace out yo,

J

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