For Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) this can be a dreadful time of the year, one which you may associate with an annihilating sense of depression and sorrow. You are not alone, but with time, this does get better and can become a joyful time for you!
Countless ACoA survivors still have memories of drunken holidays where the only thing to celebrate was when their parent(s) would finally pass out and they didn’t have to be terrified as to what might happen next.
Holidays seemed to be the only excuse required for our caregivers to tie one on! Instead of looking forward to these times like other children seemed to do, we would pray our parents might forget these special days all together.
I was fortunate that my parents did work very hard to get a decorated tree up, wrapped gifts beneath the tree and there were even cookies for me to put out at night for Santa.
In our house, the drinking would begin later on Christmas and Thanksgiving Days. My mother would labor all day cooking a colossal amount of food for the celebratory feast. However, she would drink while she cooked and my father would be completely drunk when the time came to actually enjoy the meal.
Many times I remember my father literally passing out on his plate. As a child I wondered why he didn’t suffocate but no one ever bothered to check on him. Instead we ate our meal as instructed and ignored the snoring figure at the end of the table.
We were afraid to talk, so we ate our meal as quickly as possible and received permission from my mother to leave the table, while thanking her for all her work and the beautiful meal. We had learned through experience that soon the fighting and yelling would begin and last throughout the remainder of our Holiday Vacations.
No one special in our lives was ever invited over as we lived in vile fear that someone might actually knock on our door during the holidays and find out our family’s dirty little secret!
As an adult my husband and I try to be out of town enjoying both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day somewhere other than our home. My husband understands that these are still tender times for me. He is loving and wants me to be happy and enjoy the holidays. For us, Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Christ and ultimately, except for the desire to attend church, a nice quiet dinner makes for a perfect celebration. Of course when I can see my daughter it is a particularly blessed time.