As if we need another reminder of the season at hand, these questions focus us on what's at stake right now.
Dear Mr. Moyers: I think I'm about to go back home for a couple of days to be with my parents and grandfather and two sisters for the first time since I got help for my drinking problem.
I say "drinking problem" because that's how I'll explain why I am not getting drunk with the family this Christmas, a holiday "tradition" in our household. I don't dare say I'm an alcoholic. They don't and never will understand it. Half of me doesn't want to go home — I'd rather stay here where I feel safe and can stay sober with people like me. But the other half wants to see my family. It is Christmas, after all. What should I do, go or not? — Quincy T., Lexington, Ky.
Dear Quincy: From the postmark on your letter, I know you're only about an hour's drive from your family home, so here's another option. Make it a short visit. Go for the meal or to give and get presents, but don't stay all day. Leave when you're ready or when you feel uncomfortable if your family starts to get lit and loose with the booze.
It is your first holiday, never an easy time when it is the first time without a drink. But if it isn't this holiday, it is another occasion that eventually will test your new-found sobriety.
So go home knowing you don't have to stay and can depart on your terms. And if they wonder why, you don't owe them an explanation, though I believe a straight-up answer is best. You can always say, "No thanks, I choose not to drink today." That's the best gift you can give yourself, Quincy. And maybe someday they, too, will get appreciate the gift.
Dear Mr. Moyers: My husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year.
We also were fortunate to celebrate sobriety anniversaries too — my 20th and he his 19th. But he died of heart disease this fall. What a shock!
Suddenly I've got a fear as intense as the craving to drink this Christmas, my first alone. Such a strange feeling — together we never struggled in recovery once we had it. I never even considered drinking again until now! And while I don't want to and know I shouldn't, I can't seem to escape this obsession. Can you help? — Delores J., Vero Beach, Fla.