This weekend kicks off the beginning of “the season” for parties, family visits, over-spending, over-eating, and over-doing.

Here in Canada, Thanksgiving is a smaller event that occurs in October. However I’m keenly aware, thanks to social media, that my American friends are preparing for their version of the holiday, and it is a much, much bigger deal.

This weekend launches the trifecta of events: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years – each of which can challenge sobriety in its own way.

If you’re affected, I offer some simple suggestions to help you through. Rethink traditions. Simplify. Stay home if necessary. Leave early if possible.

Ask yourself if you have a secret line, an unspoken excuse you’ll allow yourself under duress. Be honest. Do you believe there are any situations that would make it okay to abandon sobriety?

I pose this after noting a sober woman on Instagram confessing that she planned to drink in order to get through a visit to her mother’s home. Don’t judge me. It’s the only way I can do it.

Is it, though? Or does the addicted brain leverage our fears of old patterns and resentments with our families of origin? Challenge those thoughts. There are other, better ways to cope.

Finally, a suggestion. Gratitude does wonders for recovering to a healthier mindset. Imagine what it might do for your extended family, especially those who you find triggering.

Thanksgiving is a perfect excuse to show normies (and others) the power of gratitude.

One year, I handed guests a pen as they arrived and a stack of cards with names on the front. Inside, a heading said: I’m thankful for you because…

Everyone in attendance jotted a few words on each card (careful not to peek at their own!) and these cards were then set on each plate as a seating plan.

It was beautiful to watch each person read the messages written just for them, words of appreciation from everyone else around the table.

Perhaps this simple exercise might help set the stage for a more caring gathering of your own family.

For Canadians, I encourage you to enjoy Grey Cup weekend in sober style. Bring your own drinks, eat as much fun food as you want, and leave when you’re ready, even if the game isn’t over.

If you need encouragement, post a comment and ask for help (you can do this anonymously). Or find my UnPickled page on Facebook and send me a private message. I’m happy to point you in the direction of resources and give some support.

Take good care.