Addiction Journal

Thanksgiving table – decisions and side dishes

I am an old romantic. I enjoy being surrounded by family during the Holidays. Fireplaces, football, drumsticks, and the laughter of holidays past have been forever etched into my “Emotional DNA”.

It is truly painful when active addiction takes a family member away from our families’ celebrations. All parents yearn to have all their children by their side.

The choice to have a family member remain away from the holiday table is gut wrenching. A mother’s tears will stream as the Macys Thanksgiving Parade pours into the living room from the television. Forced smiles will be pasted on the faces of broken hearted parents as the younger sisters and brothers squabble over who gets to use the iPad next. We miss our old family structure.

Sometimes it becomes far too much and parents “cave in”. They want to practice the “tough love” concept discussed at their parent meetings, yet maybe this year is not the year. With intense guilt they invite the addict child home for “a few hours”. I am not making a judgement here and no advice. I simply know this “invite” happens.

Should you decide to have that addict family member home, please live with your decision. You also must set realistic expectations in both your heart and your head.

Your “guest” child is very sick. Keep that fact close during his/her visit. Your child is no longer the cuddly little kid that rolled down the steps in their footsie pajamas just a few short years ago. Those days are gone and it takes hard work to accept that fact. Acceptance is one of many holiday “side dishes”.

Your child has become both physically and mentally altered by their addiction. Your parental perspective must remain clear. Keep in mind that ultimately your addict child must answer to the call eventually. Plain and simple, the call is their burden.

I could never have my son sit at the holiday table when he was active.He was far too destructive and I owed other family members a peaceful day.

I do remember a phone call one Thanksgiving. He was complaining about the food wherever he was rehabbing. I reminded him that lousy Thanksgiving dinners are one of many small consequences he will face. He listened quietly. I am still thankful today that I stood by my decisions.

I pray for those of you who are struggling with that decision today. If you choose to have them sit with you, I can only pray and hope it works out well. If you opt to have them suffer the consequences of an exiled holiday, I wish you continued strength as I know this decision cuts your heart like a razor.

Again…set your mental expectations. Keep them realistic. Along with the mashed potatoes and carrots you may wish to serve up a side order of “boundaries” for your Thanksgiving table.

I wish you peace this Thanksgiving.

peace and strength

*If you feel this post will help another parent please feel free to to link, share, or retweet this Addiction Journal.

*** This 2013 my son will again join us at the Thanksgiving table…he is clean and sober. I am thankful.

Categorised as: Journal Entries


  1. Kim Crosby-Wallace says:

    As the Mother of a son who has missed too many holidays to count, this did help me to read this morning. Thank you.

  2. Kristine says:

    Lost my brother to this horrible disease Thursday night or early Friday morning after a lovely Thanksgiving… razors in my heart… horrible sadness… this blog helped so much over the last two years

    • AddictionJournal says:

      Dear Kristine,
      I am sorry for your loss. I am glad you have found some help from the posts and comments at this blog.

      – B

  3. RLS says:

    yup he’s coming home just 2 years sober..but feeling as though he is 2 years clean not sober?!

  4. Janice says:

    2nd year in a row my son is in rehab for the holidays. Hurts, but I keep in mind he could be a few other places, and for that I am grateful. I allow myself to cry, because there are so many loses to this disease. There is life right now, and I beleive God has a plan. I pray everyday for all those suffering, and for our beautiful children. God bless us all!

  5. Sandra Dever Tanner says:

    Bill I remember til this day the last Thanksgiving when Michael had relaspe. I was so excited because I was having about 24 family members over and Mike was in the Salvation Rehab and he was coming home. Well low and behold when Michael showed up at my door step I knew right away he was using. To this day I do not know how I got through that day. Like you said you put a fake smile on your face and when company leaves you cry the cry you wanted to cry all day! I thank God everyday that we got our son back. God is good. God Bless

  6. Lisa Murphy says:

    Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself…..Whatever the decision a parent makes regarding the "holiday visit decision" don't beat yourself up, God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Julie says:

    We have already decided no for both holidays. It is making my daughter nuts because she just attended a family wedding and was appropriate. But, she had a hotel to escape to when the social responsibilities of family became overwhelming and, most importantly, the wedding was in the town she is living in. I simply don’t want to risk driving 2 hours in the opposite direction to pick up someone actively using and find her unable to join us because she has been celebrating the day with drugs or alcohol already. I don’t think it is fair to have my children in a car for 8 hours on the holiday. She is homeless so if we drive down there… we have no where really to celebrate… And, I don’t want my kids to miss out on cousins, grandparents and healthy family members.

    It is very guilt producing because her son is with us and she keeps reminding me that she is missing holidays with him. But, that is a choice too…

  8. Susan Willis Silva says:

    As the parent of an addict, I have survived through two Christmas's with him in a rehab. It was painful, but I had to remember that I had other children and grandchildren who need the experience of the holiday to one that was still FULL of love and joy. I certainly mourned his not being there, and my other adult children did as well. But we also focused on the reasons for the Holidays, this upcoming one; Thanksgiving is for just that giving Thanks, and there is always something we can give thanks for, even if our loved on in a rehab or prison, we can give thanks that they are off the streets, being fed and have a roof over third head. And we can turn our focus to those around us and all that we have and have a day still FULL of thanks. And Christmas… ah the most idealistic of all Holidays… the Norman Rockwell, Hallmark Card looking Holiday. More on that at another time…

  9. Leah Scates says:

    I'm thankful this Thanksgiving that they are both still alive and can turn their lives around any day. I'm going away by myself to visit my step family. It will be nice to have a dinner without glares, and deals, and whispering. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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