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Living Your Recovery on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner, Thanksgiving turkey. Served table. Thanksgiving table served with turkey, decorated with bright autumn leaves. Roasted turkey, table setting

For many people, Florida is a destination location – not just for Spring Break, family vacations, and retirement, but for recovery as well. An untold number of people bravely leave their families every year and come down to Florida with the goal of rebuilding their lives, starting with treatment. This can be a hugely rewarding experience, providing people with the distance, time, and focus they need to really make headway in building a new life for themselves without drugs and alcohol. However, around the holidays, if they cannot return home or family cannot come to them, it can get lonely.

But being without your family does not mean you have to be alone on Thanksgiving. In fact, this is a great opportunity to bond with people in your support network and begin to practice being in a social context with people without drugs and alcohol. Whether this is your first Thanksgiving in sobriety or yet another Thanksgiving spent far away from your loved ones, below are some ways that you can actively live your recovery during the holiday.

Feed Your Friends

Without discrimination, invite all the people you care about to share Thanksgiving with you this year. You can host a traditional Thanksgiving meal at your home or a neutral public location like the beach, or you can opt for something completely different. Keep it mellow and have everyone over for the first viewing of Christmas movies of the year, or create an elaborate reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. Whatever you choose to do, keep it fun by:

  • Inviting your friends to dress up (in costume, if you like)
  • Ask everyone to bring a different dish to make the feast more festive
  • Make it clear to all guests that not only will there be no alcohol served but all are expected to be sober as well
  • Include a bunch of different people to keep things interesting

Feed Your Mind

Thanksgiving Day is one of the busiest days of the year at the movie theater. After dinner and before dessert, it is practically an American institution to head out to see the new release scheduled for that day, which is why it is a great day to head over to a museum, the library, or stay home and read or watch documentaries. With a whole day off and no expectation to do anything, you have the chance to spend the day enriching your mind. Read a biography, learn about space, catch up on current events, or escape into a novel for the day.

Feed Your Community

There is a plethora of volunteer opportunities available on Thanksgiving, but because it is a day centered around taking care of others, those volunteer opportunities often fill up fast. You may need to get creative if you are not already firmly rooted in an organization that needs your help on Thanksgiving. Consider launching your own food drive or warm clothing drive prior to Thanksgiving and then spend the day delivering your items. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. Simply find a national campaign that you respect and contact the organization to get information about how you can help them locally, then follow through.

You may also choose to take part in a community event that is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day. There may be a number of sober events to choose from, including dinners held at the homes of 12-Step members or an alumni dinner at your drug rehab program. Ask around and share your interest in finding something awesome to do on Thanksgiving, and then see what opportunities come your way.

Feed Your Soul

Thanksgiving is a time to meditate on all the things you have to be grateful for. Take time this holiday to not only physically write out all the things and people that have made your life better but also commit to continuing this practice regularly. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness in everyday life is key in recovery. It can help you to keep your focus on things that matter rather than allowing yourself to spend too long stressing out about the past or worrying about the future. Right now is what matters in recovery, and learning how to stay present starts with taking a look at what is around you and appreciating all you have.

But how do you make this an activity worthy of an entire day on Thanksgiving? Rather than sitting down and scrawling off a list, take time to head out for a hike, go for a swim, take a long walk, or spend time with a friend talking about all the things in your lives that are important to you. Rather than gorging on food on Thanksgiving, really overindulge in taking care of yourself and celebrating your life and all that you have in sobriety.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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