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Holidays, Alcohol and Recovery Lessons from “The Grinch”

Kacy DeSilva, Corporate Director of Alumni Services


This holiday season, countless recovery blogs will focus on avoiding the dangers of celebrations that center around alcohol. These well-meaning pieces will point out that tinsel-laden parties revolving around spiked egg nog and champagne toasts can be traps of temptation for those struggling with alcoholism. While it may seem risky to suggest that any alcoholic could move through this season unharmed, this is nonetheless a reality for thousands who have recovered from addiction. Relief from fear of relapse is precisely what we earn when we resolutely extend the “goodwill toward men” which personifies this season.


For many in active addiction, life as Ebenezer Scrooge or the infamous Grinch is a waking reality. Interestingly enough, the recovery process is similar to the evolution of both of these classic holiday characters.


As I entered into recovery, I learned that my perspective was inherently skewed by the miserly actions I had taken during active addiction. The very lessons about giving that I had learned as a child in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol echoed in the spirit of service I was taught in recovery. The men and women who came before me showed me how to live without having to face the arduous battle of white-knuckle sobriety. They gave me a solution that hinged on a commitment to act with patience, tolerance, kindliness and love. Like thousands of recovered alcoholics before me, I have been shown a way of life that enables me to become the creature of giving I believe that I was designed to be.


Like the Grinch whose heart grows when his attitude shifts, addicts who once felt empty and alone learn to enjoy the season by being bringers of joy rather than dysfunction.


Both the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge found happiness when they shifted their attitude and actions. Each of these timeless characters learned that they had been hopelessly flawed in their approach to the holidays – and to life. As addicts in recovery, we can begin to escape our own “humbug complexes” by learning to give freely of ourselves. In time, we can choose to discover the lessons available in every struggle, and this reality ushers in a sense of appreciation for all that we have been taught by those who helped us to recover. We repay that sense of appreciation by serving our fellow man with all of the strength at our disposal. We share our tables with loved ones and fellow addicts; we give of ourselves to those with less. Freedom from addiction is a direct result of humble acts of service.


For thousands of people in recovery, the holidays are no longer about avoiding alcohol. Each celebration becomes an opportunity to be the light in the lives of others.


Warmth can found even in the coldest winter if we are willing to light the candles of our fellows. Through the application of basic spiritual principles, we can do more than grin and bear parties filled with alcohol because we have been placed in a position to radiate with love from the inside out. This holiday season, the selfless good cheer that perpetuates our very freedom from addiction can affect all of those we come into contact with – from the people we pass on the street to the addict struggling to find his way through the darkness. Much like Scrooge and the Grinch, we learn to be a source of light by loving freely and fearlessly.


From all of us at Origins, Happy Holidays!

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