The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 8

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We are getting closer and closer folks! Christmas is almost upon us, and so we felt it is a good time to check up on our naughty list with Step 8 of the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery!

Now I know we said in the last step that all the birds our true love was giving us seemed a bit much, but woah… who needs 8 maids milking? How much milk can one person drink? Why doesn’t your true love just get you a gift card for groceries? And do you own the cows, or the maids… it’s all very confusing!

Never mind, this is getting weird.

Step 8: Made my naughty list and checked myself twice, became willing to make amends and be nice

In Step 5 we created our very own Christmas wish list where we took a step back from the heavy stuff to try and lighten up. But that doesn’t mean we get away with everything that got us on the naughty list.

We talked about watching ourselves through the holiday to make sure we weren’t being a Grinch or Scrooge-ish, while also trying to catch ourselves in those moments of shortcomings in an effort to let go and improve our holiday. Yet, we have still had a whole year to make it on the naughty list, so we should also take a moment to look at that too.

In Step 7 we talked about humility being more about how we treat others instead of how we treat ourselves. Now, we should examine our actions and attitudes throughout our year to recognize where we can do better moving forward. Especially when it comes to how we have impacted other people in the process.

If we are supposed to be bringing peace on earth and goodwill toward others, how have we harmed them through the year? Who do we owe an amends to this Christmas? How can we give that gift to them?

The nicer side of the naughty list…

Now for most people who are familiar with Step 8 as it is used in the recovery fellowships across the world, at first we might find it difficult to see the nicer side of the list. When making a list of our harms, we do not typically take delight in the wrongs we have done to others. However, there is still a great deal of good to come out of looking through a naughty list.

The nicer side of our naughty list comes in recognizing how our own misbehavior has and impact on our current Christmas spirit. We see how many of our troubles are of our own making. We wouldn’t get coal in our stockings if we hadn’t earned it. Some of the adversities we face with our families, friends, spouses or others when it comes time to come together for the holidays is due to the items on our naughty list. Not only are we made aware of our naughty list, we see how in recovery we will be given the chance to make it right for all our Christmases to come.

We have a better chance of making next year’s nice list if we can confront now where we have been a little on the naughty side. Step 8 isn’t just about making a list of our naughtiness; it’s also about becoming willing to make amends for it.

Learning to be nice…

Lets be real, everyone has a few naughty days a year. People in recovery are not the only ones who run the risk of making the cut. Face it, Santa is a little bit judgmental with some pretty unreasonable expectations. I mean, the guy sees you when you’re sleeping, come on!

But I digress… We all have to check our motives and our actions and think on how we plan to be better. People recovering from drug abuse or alcohol addiction tend to have done quite a bit of damage; some at home and some with our professional lives or our education. 

With Step 8, we have to reconcile our discrepancies and learn how to adopt a policy of being nice, especially to those who in the past we have been particularly naughty to.

We learn that while not everyone is as willing as we are to be nice, it is up to us to safe-guard our own sense of Christmas cheer. Our responsibility here is to accept our part and try to find the strength and commitment to be nice, especially when it is hard. Just avoid the morbid self-reflection and remember that you aren’t checking this list twice to beat yourself up; you’re doing it so you don’t have to be on the list next year.

First nice thing you might want to do is give those 8 milk maids the holiday off. I think Christmas will be fine without the extra dairy products.


Not everything about Christmas in recovery is going to be as nice as we want. The winter wonderland isn’t always so cheery. Sometimes Christmas is like a snowball to the face. Sometimes we just have to try our best not to be too cold to those who matter most. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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