If You Give Me Wine For Christmas…
It is no wonder this month is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Whether it should or shouldn’t, in our society Christmas often equals gifts. While my non-parent friends automatically think about Hamiltons from WatchShopping that they want someone else to get them, my head immediately goes where any parents would. Okay, Okay!! I should take a little more care when purchasing gifts for my kids. I will usually not buy certain things for my children if I can answer the following question with a “YES.” Have I seen it more than once on America’s Funniest Home Videos? I wish I were even slightly joking about that. When someone tells me they are getting a trampoline, I retort with a highly animated, “Don’t you ever watch America’s Funniest Home Videos?!?! Nothing good ever happens with trampolines, turkey fryers, or pinatas!!!”
But here is another thought. What about safe gifts for adults? Is it “safe” to gift every friend over 21 on your list a bottle of wine (note: alcohol completely falls under the America’s Funniest Home Videos test)? As a recovering addict and alcoholic, I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that I don’t want any form of alcohol for a gift…ever. But whose responsibility does that fall under? Is it the giver or the receiver of the gift?
I believe there is only one person who needs to understand my alcoholism and its impact… Me. For me to expect that everyone will know that I am a recovering alcoholic is absurd. For me to expect that everyone around me will never make a comment that might hurt my feelings or possibly make me uncomfortable is a pretty high and unreasonable expectation too. It is just not reality. So, if someone gives me a gift of alcohol wrapped in a pretty bow, it is up to me to handle it in whatever way is best for my soul. As much as I might want to say something like, “Hey Dumbass, it is completely shitty that you would tempt me to throw away EVERYTHING I have worked SO hard for in the last five years by handing me a bottle of liquid that could ruin my life and make me feel like I want to die. A simple card with a generic greeting and your signature would have been fine.” Instead, I take a deep breath…or twenty and recognize where the gift is coming from.
Gifts are about the thought. If someone is giving you something, it generally means they care. Depending on the circumstances, I would be completely comfortable not accepting it. A simple and honest, “Thank you for the gesture. I completely appreciate that you thought of me. I’m just not comfortable accepting a gift of alcohol because I don’t drink. Please feel free to give it to someone who may enjoy it.” Here’s the thing. If the other party is offended that I don’t want to accept it, that is out of my hands. Just like if I were offended that they purchased me alcohol. No one needs to be offended. Although I am generally very comfortable telling people I am in recovery, I do not have to. I don’t have to assume that everyone knows what it is like to be a recovering alcoholic, I just have to know how to handle the situation. If it is not in the best interest for my recovery to keep the bottle, then that is what I have to do. It is what I will do… as a gift to myself.