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Substance.com Readers’ Holiday Tales: Dealing With the Leftovers


Today's installment of our readers' seasonal sharing of their substance-related experiences.

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Recently we invited Substance.com readers to share their stories of holidays past that relate to substances or their absence. (You can read the two previous stories we published here and here.) Today’s reader, a woman from New England who wishes to remain anonymous, recalls one particularly chaotic family Christmas.

 

A few Decembers ago, I headed home to Rhode Island. I had a bottle of Wild Turkey hidden in my bag. I knew that the wine served with meals wouldn’t scratch my itch. I wondered if my liter of bourbon would be enough. I would be there for two whole days.

My mom started pouring wine at 5 o’clock and I was two glasses deep by the time other family members started showing up. I snuck up to my bedroom and took a few long swigs from the Wild Turkey. That’s all I remember of that Christmas Eve, other than a hazy recollection of raucously singing carols and sneaking cigarettes on the back porch with someone. Was it my uncle George? I’m still not sure.

The next morning, Christmas Day, I woke up with a raging hangover and checked my bag. Half the Wild Turkey was gone. No wonder everything was a blur. I panicked. Did I say anything inappropriate? What did I do? My greatest fear was being found out. I took a long swig to cut the shame and headed downstairs for waffles.

The rest of the bottle was gone by that evening. I came out of a blackout at some point and I was unwrapping a sweater from my grandmother. “I love it!” I shrieked, with unbridled enthusiasm. It was an ugly sweater—a turtleneck, which I would never wear.

I was surrounded by my imperfect but loving family. In a New England farmhouse. A fire blazing. It was idyllic. And I was as drunk as a frat boy on his 21st birthday.

I woke up the next day, Boxing Day, with my mom standing over me in my childhood bed. I was still wearing my holiday attire—a green dress and striped wool tights and heels. I looked like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz after the house lands on top of her.

“I think you have a problem,” said my mom, sternly. She was angry but also concerned.

Oh God. She knows, I thought, terrified.

But it turned out she was mad that, in my drunkenness, I had binged on everything in the fridge. “You left crumbs all over the floor last night,” she said. “You ate all the leftovers. We were saving them for today.” Seen through her New England-mom denial, my problem was that I was a messy eater. 

I got sober a few months later, at my own volition. 

I will probably still binge on leftovers when I go home for Christmas this year. Family holidays set my emotions into a carb-craving tailspin. But I’m sober, so I’ll clean up after. And I’ll remember everything.