Tips for Sobriety and Safety this COVID Thanksgiving

2 min read · 4 sections

On top of the usual potential trials and triggers for those in recovery at Thanksgiving, this year there is another one. That would be the pandemic. On second thought, let’s scratch the word “usual” in the first sentence because little about the holiday in 2020 fits that description. In fact, like the title of an old musical standard, this Thanksgiving will be “A Most Unusual Day.”

This year, the tradition of extended family members and friends celebrating as one unit may differ. At least, it should. That is the recommendation of health-related organizations, local policymakers others. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests “small gatherings” composed only of those in the immediate practicing safety and sobriety this thanksgiving by hosting virtual dinner

Regardless of the size of the get together, the holiday may be troubling. When people congregate, tensions have a way of surfacing. And when that happens, it can shake up the delicate balance that those in recovery try so hard to maintain.

With sobriety and COVID in mind, let’s outline several strategies on the best ways to spend Thanksgiving this year.

Celebrate Your Meal Virtually

Zoom your holiday spread with others. It’s the perfect antidote to the pandemic and to managing stress. It keeps participants safe on so many levels. But it also affords an avenue to share this time. Having a screen between you and others rather than everyone being in one spot is a limiting factor. It doesn’t change behaviors but it creates a barrier and dampens the effects. It’s happening in real time, but not in person and in your face. Before you partake of your meal, show off your turkey, fixings and whatever you prepare. Divulge the secrets of your recipes if you dare. Make toasts without feeling pressure to go the alcoholic route or make excuses.

Have a Pre- or Post- Meal Virtual Extravaganza

Why not start the day with a group Zoom meeting rather than during the meal? Talk about your preparations and anything for that matter. Then Zoom off and eat in peace. Alternatively, plan a Zoom meeting after your meal. This gives you more uninterrupted time to have conversations without the clatter of plates or concern about food and drink. Better yet, rev up this online get together by playing games. This option requires planning. Figure out the best activities for this medium and get buy-in from participants. It also helps to think through the logistics and ensure everyone has what they need for the activities. The emphasis here falls heavily on having fun.

Go It On Your Own

Forget Zoom and gathering with other people. Sometimes, being solo is the best route to avoid pitfalls and may be the only one in some instances. What’s more, this onesie is the perfect panacea to the pandemic. Make your own meal. Or forgo the fussing and order food from a contactless delivery service, take out on your own or head to the grocery store to buy what you like. There’s no mandate to have turkey. Whip up your favorite dish – spaghetti, mac and cheese, whatever strikes your fancy. Watch holiday parades, sports on TV, movies you wanted to stream. Binge a series you’ve been meaning to see – the time is yours to stay occupied and amused.sign advising people to practice sobriety and safety this thanksgiving

Go Traditional but Safely

Accept that invitation or issue your own. When going to family or friends for the holiday, follow CDC Thanksgiving guidelines. Be sure to bring your own non-alcoholic beverage(s) or anything else you anticipate will make the day go smoothly. If things become uncomfortable for any reason, leave. When planning your own soiree, keep it small. Invite those who have the same mindset as you regarding holiday revelry and the pandemic. Ask guests to bring and wear masks, have extras and hand sanitizer available. Place people as far apart as possible or, rather than sit at a table, set up separate seating areas. Keep windows open and, if the weather cooperates, be outdoors for all or part of the day.

Remember …In any or all of these options, stay connected with those in your support system. Reach out to your network of friends and ask them to be at the ready for a call or text from you.  Speak with your sponsor. Attend an AA or NA meeting no matter what you do. The conversation likely will touch upon this holiday with helpful comments and questions.

Have the best day possible. It’s only one day. Make it a good one.

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