Christmas is a time when families come together. Even if family members stay far apart for much of the rest of the year they will tend to make an effort to be together for this occasion. It can be a time of great joy; especially if there are children in the house. Most of us will have great memories of Christmas – at least I do anyway.
One thing that can completely destroy this occasion is having a drunk in the family. You would think that these people would be able to control themselves for just this one day. The reality is that drunks tend to display their worst behaviour at this time of year. I know because that drunk was once me.
I ruined quite a few Christmases in my time; or at the very least made it less enjoyable for other people. On more than one occasion I was invited to Christmas dinner but turned up too drunk to eat. On one occasion I fell asleep at the table of my hosts. There is no doubt that people were stunned by my rudeness, and I never got a second invite anywhere. Luckily I didn’t have any children at the time so I wasn’t able to ruin the day for them.
So why did I not just behave myself for this one day? Am I some type of sociopath that can’t bear to see other people happy? Well, despite the fact that I lost interest in Christianity in my teens this time of year was still something I looked forward to. For me it was a great excuse to party, and the idea of not drinking would have seemed absurd. This was at least one time a year when over indulging in alcohol seemed socially acceptable; so to ask me to tone it down would have seemed grossly unfair to me. Yes, I would always end up doing stupid things and upsetting people with my drunkenness, but I never planned for it to happen. Other people may have been able to predict my drunken outbursts, but I never could. Drunks really do not get the concept that doing the same thing leads to the same results; they really do expect things to turn out differently next time.
The thing is that the family drunk does not set out to cause so many problems. Their obsession with alcohol means that they can excuse their past bad behaviour too easily; they will just make promises to themselves and others not to let it happen again. Asking them to show some control at this time of year is pointless, because there is too much drinking going on around them. Most drunks will realise at the time that they are ruining the day for everyone; they will drink even more to deal with the shame. It really is a pathetic state of affairs.
The only hope is that the drunk finally decides that enough is enough, and they decide to get some help. Maybe then a new year can really bring about a big change in their behaviour and there will be no more ruined Christmases for everyone. Sobriety means being able to spend time with family and being and asset to the occasion. Of course there will be shame for our actions in the past, but people can and do change.
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