Thank you for joining us for another edition of the 12 Steps of Christmas, where we put a recovery spin on a Christmas classic. Now, we are talking Step 7.
It is fitting that the traditional song tells us about the true love, who at this point must think we are opening a zoo, gave us 7 swans swimming. I say that, because with this step we are talking about seeking to be transformed. Kind of like the ugly duckling who became a swan. In addiction we often feel like ugly ducklings. But if we are willing to let some things go, we can be the swans we were always meant to be.
But seriously, who is going to feed all these strange birds?
Step 7: Humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings of holiday spirit
If you read Step 3 of our take on 12 Steps of Christmas, you will remember us talking about finding a willingness to be open minded enough to consider that something outside ourselves could influence our outlook and attitude during the holidays. We spoke of contemplating the concept of a Higher Power in Step 2; be it God, the universe, nature, your higher consciousness or even just Santa Claus and the Christmas spirit. Then we discussed how to be willing to let go of our need to control the holiday.
Then, in Step 5 and Step 6 we talked about the process that allows us to recognize our own part in making the holidays harder. We talked about opening up to our friends, family, or a sponsor and sober support about our holiday stresses and our negative reactions to them.
Now, we take that self-awareness and self-reflection, and we try to turn it over the whatever forces outside ourselves during the Christmas season in hopes that those defects of character will no longer hold everyone hostage at Christmas dinner. We look at our moments when the inner Grinch starts to peek out, or when we get all Scroogey, and we be willing to let the spirit of Christmas take that away.
Cheery with a chance of humility…
In certain literature on the 12 Steps, you will find an entry about humility to the effect of,
“Humility, as a word and as an ideal, has a very bad time of it in our world. Not only is the idea misunderstood; the word itself is often intensely disliked.”
Even though we know humility as a virtual, it still gets a bad rep because the ego will instinctively take it as an attack. Of course it does, because humility is letting go of the ego. So when we say we are humbly asking this outside source of strength to remove our own shortcoming in the Christmas spirit, the ego will probably get in the way.
Do your best to remember that Christmas is not about us and what we want, even though we have discussed the value of having goals and hopes, it is about others. It is OK to enjoy unwrapping your presents and to get excited about gag gifts and gift cards. But at the end of the day, we are reminded that tis the season for giving. Because getting a gift is never as great a feeling as giving one. Some of us in early recovery might be struggling to be able to give anything, but it isn’t the kind of stuff you can put in a box with a bow that matters. The best gift you can give to others is your time and a clear, sober version of yourself to spend it with.
And in truth, that is a true sign of humility; the ability to have hopes and goals to connect and celebrate life with those closest to you, and to give to one another. One of my personal favor authors, S.C. Lewis said,
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
In other words, you don’t have to tear down the ego in order to leave it alone.
So this Christmas seek the strength to let go of your shortcomings, in a more direct effort to remove anything that might keep you from truly being present for your holiday with those you care about. You have recognized your ability to be a Grinch and to be a Scrooge, now look for that Higher Power you have connected to for a chance to have a Merry Christmas. Anything that is holding you back from being merry, see if Santa can’t grab it on his way out the chimney.