Feeling anxious about how to stay alcohol-free during the holidays? In this special episode of The Hello Someday Podcast I’ve gathered a trio of sober coaches and alcohol-free life experts to help you enjoy your sober holiday season. 

If you’re nervous about how to stay sober during the month of December, you’re not alone. It’s normal to feel out of place and crave a drink during those holiday parties and family gatherings. 

You’re probably used to toasting the New Year with a glass of champagne or sipping red wine around the Christmas fire. 

For a long time I knew that I should stop drinking but couldn’t imagine office holiday parties, family celebrations and New Year’s Eve alcohol-free.

Here were my biggest fears about being sober during the holiday season:

  • How can I enjoy a sober holiday season when everyone around me is drinking? 

  • Will I ruin the festive mood if I don’t drink? 
  • Will my relatives think I’m being a killjoy? 
  • How do I navigate social pressure to fit in and drink? 
  • Will my sobriety make others feel awkward at gatherings? 
  • What if my social invitations disappear? 
  • Will people think that I have a problem with alcohol if I don’t drink?
  • And most of all, can I handle the holidays without alcohol?

The truth is that my first sober holiday season wasn’t easy, but it was better than the ones I spent drinking. 

After years of regretting drinking too much at big events it was lovely to remember all of New Year’s Eve, wake up on Christmas morning without a hangover and replace guilt and regret with peace and pride. 

To help you navigate the boozy holiday season alcohol-free, I gathered a trio of experts: Gill Tietz, host of  the Sober Powered podcast, Veronica Valli, author and host of the Soberful podcast, and Paul Churchill host of the Recovery Elevator podcast.

In this episode you’ll learn…

✅ What our holidays were like when we were drinking

✅ The strategies we used to stay alcohol-free during our first sober holiday seasons   

✅ Why you need to tell your family and friends that you aren’t drinking before you see them (and how to do it)

✅ The importance of self-advocacy during the holidays, even at the risk of feeling awkward or inconveniencing others

✅ Emotions that came up during our first sober holidays, including loneliness, pride, joy, jealousy and anger

✅ Why you need the support of other sober people when you’re feeling triggered or overwhelmed during the holidays (and where to find them) 

✅ Ideas for how to change traditions, disconnecting temporarily, and communicate about your sobriety so that you set yourself up for success

Join me for this special holiday episode of The Hello Someday Podcast so we can dive deep into our personal experiences, fears, triumphs and struggles of staying sober during the holiday season. 

Let us help you get through the challenges of saying goodbye to holiday drinking so you can experience the joy of remembering every special moment of the season.

Hello Someday Podcast Episodes On How To Enjoy A Sober Holiday Season

Your Sober Holiday Survival Guide with Jean McCarthy of Unpickled and The Bubble Hour

How To Enjoy Your First Sober Holiday Season 

A Sober Girls Guide To The Holiday Season

Holding Your Hand Through A Sober Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Previous Hello Someday Podcast episode with Paul Churchill of Recovery Elevator

Giving Up Alcohol With Paul Churchill 

Previous Hello Someday Podcast episode with Veronica Valli of Soberful

Sobriety, Growth and Personal Development

Previous Hello Someday Podcast episodes with Gill Tietz of Sober Powered

What You Don’t Know About Alcohol And Your Body | Hello Someday Coaching  

Choose The Best Path To Sobriety For You | Hello Someday Coaching

Living With A Partner Who Drinks When You’re Sober | Hello Someday Coaching

How To Move Through (PAWS) Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome From Alcohol | Hello Someday Coaching

How To Cope With Holiday Season Anxiety and Family Stress Without Drinking | Hello Someday Coaching 

    3 Ways I Can Support You In Drinking Less + Living More

    Join The Sobriety Starter Kit, the only sober coaching course designed specifically for busy women. 

    My proven, step-by-step sober coaching program will teach you exactly how to stop drinking  — and how to make it the best decision of your life.

    Save your seat in my FREE MASTERCLASS, 5 Secrets To Successfully Take a Break From Drinking 

    Grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free.

    Connect with me for free sober coaching tips, updates + videos on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok @hellosomedaysober.

    Connect with Veronica Valli

    Veronica Valli is changing the narrative on sobriety. Continuously sober since May 2nd, 2000, and with over 22 years of experience as a recovery coach and psychotherapist, she understands that there is no ONE path to recovery. 

    Author of the award winning book ‘Soberful: Uncover a Sustainable, fulfilling life free of alcohol’ published by Sounds True, and co-host of the Soberful Podcast, Veronica has helped thousands of women not only recover from alcohol but also transform their lives. 

    Veronica teaches that alcohol is not the problem—it’s only a symptom of a deeper underlying problem. She helps women dig deep, embrace change, and become who they are meant to be. “I return people to themselves,” she says. 

    Veronica works with women and men all over the world through her successful and innovative online recovery programs. She developed the Soberful program into an online subscription community; Soberful Life. Now based in the US after relocating from the UK, she is married and lives in Alabama, with her husband and two sons. 

    Learn more about Veronica and Soberful at www.soberful.com

    Join Veronica’s Free Facebook Group: Soberful

    Follow on Instagram @veronicajvalli

    Follow on TikTok @veronicavalli3

    Connect with Gillian Tietz

    Gillian Tietz is the host of the Sober Powered Podcast and the founder of Sober Powered Media, a podcast network for mental health podcasts. Getting sober in 2019 inspired her to start her podcast where she utilizes her biochemistry background to teach others how alcohol affects the brain and why it’s so hard to stop drinking. She is a chemistry professor at a university in Boston. 

    Listen and Subscribe to the Sober Powered Podcast

    Follow on Instagram: @sober.powered

    Connect with Paul Churchill 

    Paul Churchill is the founder of Recovery Elevator – a popular membership-based community that helps partner sobriety seeking individuals with like minded seekers. Paul helps others start their journey and turn their life around. Along with putting on alcohol-free wellness retreats and seminars across the country, he hosts sober travel itineraries across the globe. 

    Recovery Elevator

    TedX Talk: I’ve been duped by alcohol | Paul Churchill | TEDxBozeman

    Podcast on iTunes Recovery Elevator 🌴 on Apple Podcasts

    Instagram Channel: Recovery Elevator (@recoveryelevator)

    Facebook: Recovery Elevator

    Connect with Casey

    Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!

    Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.


    Are you looking for the best sobriety podcast for women? The Hello Someday Podcast was created specifically for sober curious women and gray area drinkers ready to stop drinking, drink less and change their relationship with alcohol.

    Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life and sobriety coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking and The Sobriety Starter Kit Sober Coaching Course, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

    Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol-free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this is the best sobriety podcast for you.

    A Top 100 Mental Health Podcast, ranked in the top 0.5% of podcasts globally with over 1 million downloads, The Hello Someday Podcast is the best sobriety podcast for women.

    In each episode, Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.

    Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol-free life. 

    Be sure to grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

    Subscribe & Review in iTunes

    Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode.

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    Expert Tips For Enjoying A Sober Holiday Season with Gill Tietz of Sober Powered, Paul Churchill of Recovery Elevator, Veronica Valli of Soberful and Casey McGuire Davidson of The Hello Someday Podcast For Sober Curious Women


    drinking, sober, sobriety, holidays, people, Christmas, feel, alcohol, podcast, holiday season, family, Veronica, Paul, Casey, Gill, New Year, wine, parties, day, great, husband, alcohol-free, navigate first sober holiday season, perspective, tips, tools, strategies, support, quit drinking, stay sober, regret, not present, shame, lonely, habits, gifts, accountable, accountability


    SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + + Gill Tietz + Paul Churchill + Veronica Valli


    Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

    In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

    Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

    I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:01:21]:

    Hi there. I am so excited for this episode because I am bringing together three friends to talk about


    tips for staying sober during the holidays.


    In this episode, I got together with Paul Churchill from Recovery Elevator, with Veronica Valli from the Soberful podcast, and Gill Tietz from Sober Powered, and we dive right into what you need to know, what we wish we had known to successfully navigate our first holiday season alcohol-free.

    So, we talk about what our holidays were like when we were drinking and what our first sober holiday season was like, how we navigated it.

    Each one of us shared what we think the biggest challenges are for someone who is newly sober and navigating the holidays for the first time, as well as sharing our very best tips.

    For any of you who are feeling a little wobbly going into Christmas and Hanukkah and New Year’s and office parties and travel to see your families and everything else alcohol-free. What I love about this episode is that each one of us come from a different perspective, with different tips and different tools and strategies that we can offer you.

    Veronica quit drinking when she was younger, and she didn’t have kids and she was single, so her experience and what she needed to do to get through the holidays alcohol-free was different than what, for example, I needed when I celebrated my first sober holidays.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:03:07]:

    I was 9 months alcohol-free. I had two little kids and had been married for a very long time.

    Gill got sober right around the holidays, so she was just a month or two alcohol-free when she went through it, which, again, is very different than me because I had more time under my belt. And Paul as well, went into the holidays pretty newly sober. He was also single. He was spending it with his family.

    So, I think between the four of us, we can bring you a lot of perspective, maybe avoid some of the mistakes we made, take our best advice from all the people we work with, through Coaching, through our communities. And get what you need to get excited and feel strong and solid in your decision to remain alcohol-free this holiday season and ring in the new year.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:04:02]:

    Feeling so good and really proud of yourself.

    Gill Tietz [00:04:07]:

    Paul, Casey and Veronica, thank you guys so much for joining me today to talk about the holiday season.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:04:15]:

    Yeah, I’m excited to be here.

    Paul Churchill [00:04:17]:

    Yeah, for sure. Gill, thanks for having us.

    Veronica Valli [00:04:20]:

    Comes up so fast, doesn’t it?

    Gill Tietz [00:04:22]:

    It does. And the stress and the purchases and all the commercials and the family and the resentments.

    Paul Churchill [00:04:33]:

    Don’t forget the eggnog. I went a little too big on eggnog a couple of nights ago. It’s already out.

    Gill Tietz [00:04:40]:

    I could forget about that.

    Paul Churchill [00:04:43]:

    Yeah, we’re not going to purchase any more this holiday season. Let’s put it that way.

    Gill Tietz [00:04:49]:

    So, before we talk about sober holiday seasons, I’m really curious, like, who we all are. I guess we should start there in case someone doesn’t know us. But Paul, do you want to tell us a little bit about you and your show and we’ll start there?

    Paul Churchill [00:05:08]:

    Yeah. Gill, thank you very much for having me. It’s great to be here with you.

    Casey and Veronica, these are some neat projects in this space, so I’m excited to share it and be part of this with you all.

    So, my name is Paul Churchill. I live in Bozeman, Montana. In 2014, I found myself in rough shape, unable to quit drinking, and I started to burn the ships. That was something that I hadn’t tried before.

    Paul Churchill [00:05:31]:

    I had tried quitting alone by myself for so long and then along with that, to find accountability because I couldn’t quit drinking. I had an idea. I liked podcasts, but I couldn’t really find one in the sober space that resonated with me. Maybe I was focusing on the differences. Who knows? But I started a podcast called Recovery Elevator in February of 2015. 1st episode was February 25. Mostly out of selfish reasons for me to stay sober. And the thinking there was if other people listened as well and it could help other people. And I stayed sober, win-win.

    Paul Churchill [00:06:01]:

    But I really wasn’t care about anybody listening. And here we are. I think we’re on episode 458. That’s 458 straight Mondays in a row. 10 million downloads later, I’m still sober. And it’s just an incredible journey. I’m so thankful for all the support. Apparently, I needed a lot of help to quit drinking and stay sober.

    Paul Churchill [00:06:19]:

    And that’s how my pathway looked. AA was a big part of my journey. It still is at times, but really. I’m enjoying the online community with Cafe Re, with Recovery Elevator and doing stuff like this with you guys. Thank you, Gill.

    Gill Tietz [00:06:32]:

    Thank you, Paul. That’s amazing. And I think everybody probably starts with your show. I think that’s the one that’s recommended all the time. That was the one that I first discovered. So, I appreciate your work.

    Paul Churchill [00:06:46]:

    Thank you.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:06:47]:

    Yeah, I live in Seattle, Washington. I’m 48 now. Not sure how that happened, but it did. I quit drinking when I was 40, when my kids were 8 and 2. So, I was the working mom who had two little kids and drank a bottle of wine or more 7 nights a week pretty consistently. And when I decided to stop drinking, it wasn’t a huge bottom or a huge incident that made me stop. It was more like the death of a thousand cuts. My anxiety was off the charts.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:07:20]:

    I felt like I couldn’t cope with life. I was sort of not remembering the end of nights and the end of shows and falling asleep on the couch and just knew my drinking was a problem and kept telling myself I would stop or take a break or just drink two glasses or whatever it was and inevitably would drink a bottle again. So quit. 7 and a half, almost eight years ago. Started doing Coaching. Sobriety and Life Coaching for women. About 4 years ago, I left my corporate job and started the Hello Someday podcast.

    Gill Tietz [00:07:58]:

    Thank you, Casey. And Veronica, how about you? Tell us about you and your show?

    Veronica Valli [00:08:05]:

    Hi, I’m Veronica Valli. My podcast is called, the Soberful Podcast. It’s been around for about five and a half years, and my co-host is Chip Summers. And Chip was my boss, really, and mentor back in the day when I was a psychotherapist working in rehab. So, I got sober May 2, 2000. So, I’ve been sober 23 years. I got sober when I was 27, which, when you are a Generation X, British girl who doesn’t drink in their 20s, everybody looks at you like you have 2 heads. So, I’ve been sober a long time.

    Veronica Valli [00:08:41]:

    I was a Psychotherapist in the UK, ran a rehab and came to America and wrote a book and started I’m much better at speaking than writing. I don’t enjoy writing, but I do like speaking. And I wanted to do my podcast with someone who had depth and weight. And Chip has been sober for 39 years and working as a therapist for like 37, 38. And there’s not really anybody who is kind of well-known in England that.

    Gill Tietz [00:09:06]:

    Didn’t get sober through Chip.

    Veronica Valli [00:09:07]:

    And so, we both have a lot of experience, and we talk about everything regarding sobriety, mental health, from the perspective of practitioners, but also from the perspective of people who’ve been through pretty much all of this stuff as well. We talk about our own struggles and how we’ve overcome them and that kind.

    Gill Tietz [00:09:25]:

    Of stuff as well, thank you, Veronica. Your show was another classic that I discovered really early when I quit. So thank you.

    And for anyone that doesn’t know me, I’m Gill. I host the Sober Powered podcast. I celebrated 4 years of sobriety yesterday. Thank you.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:09:49]:


    Gill Tietz [00:09:50]:

    Or a couple weeks ago, if you’re listening to this, when it’s out and my whole thing is the Science of it, like, why did this happen to me? That was my mission. I wanted to understand if it was my fault or if there was something else. And once I started learning, it felt so helpful that I just started sharing it. And that’s what I do now. And when we talk about the holiday season, I quit in the holiday season. So, it was really hard. There were a lot of happy hours. I was working in Biotech then, so there were parties everywhere.

    Gill Tietz [00:10:31]:

    There were parties at the office with alcohol, and we were going out all the time. We had the holiday party that year at a speakeasy that didn’t really have that much food. It’s a tough time of year. And before we get to the good part and the tips and the positiveness, I want to hear what the holidays were like for you guys before. So, Paul, when you were drinking, what was your holiday season usually like?

    Paul Churchill [00:11:04]:

    Sure. Thanks, Jill. I can summarize that with two words that’s not present, as in when I was drinking during the holidays. And there’s a lot of holidays, go figure. But the big ones here, I think, for Thanksgiving and Christmas and perhaps New Year’s is kind of the gauntlet in this world. And sobriety dates around the holidays, on the holidays are actually quite common. So if there are listeners out there, they’re like, yeah, I’m going to push this off to Jan. One.

    Paul Churchill [00:11:27]:

    Like New Year, a lot of people get sober on December 24 or the day after Thanksgiving, right? So not present. Right? It was this entire gig in my mind that I had to keep going. I wanted to hide my drinking because usually I showed up to Thanksgiving or dinner or whatnot, one to 15 drinks deep, who knows, depending on the holiday. And you try to keep that information to yourself. And then you sneak into the kitchen, you sneak into other areas to take drinks on your own without people seeing. And so there’s this game going on inside my brain of how do I keep this going? And then they’re also observing other people trying to track their drinks. There’s like this barometer that I’m normal, I’m drinking just like everybody else. But really that was a fallacy.

    Paul Churchill [00:12:13]:

    That wasn’t true because nobody else was drinking like me. I would always lap the pace car, shall we say. So two words, there not present. Right? You’re there. But I was like a shell, just eating the food, walking around, opening presents, doing the holiday motions. That’s it. I was not present. So yeah, that’s what the holidays were like for me and also very painful because the shame and I’ve heard some promises that we told each other on this podcast already, hey, this Christmas is going to be different, this New Year’s is going to be different, all that stuff, and it never came true.

    Gill Tietz [00:12:48]:

    I like that you said “not present”. I don’t think we realize that right away, but I like that a lot. And you’re right, there are a lot of sober dates around the holidays, especially like right by the holiday because of a bad experience like we’ve all had. But it is totally possible to quit now when you’re sick of it instead of pushing it off. So thank you. Casey, what was your typical holiday season like when you were know, I’ve been.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:13:21]:

    Thinking about this a lot just in the past couple days because I am super excited. I’m going to interview Sarah Hepola on my podcast in 2 weeks, and I was rereading her book, Blackout and just posted about it. And I was a pretty regular blackout drinker. And it wasn’t terribly exciting, it was just pretty normal where I’d start drinking, I’d remember all the good stuff and then wouldn’t remember how I went to bed or wouldn’t remember what happened at the end of the night. I was a 40-year-old married mom, so nothing that exciting happened to me when I was blacked out. But when Paul said “not present”, that resonated with me a lot. It’s like, I started out present and then I got happy and then I just poured another drink and then I woke up in the morning pretty brutally hungover, so it was very festive. I loved the holiday.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:14:19]:

    Nothing exciting happened in a bad way, but also nothing exciting happened in a good way either. My sort of low point where I didn’t stop drinking, but in theory, I should have. It was a point that I have a lot of regret and shame around is Christmas Eve.

    One year, my mom was staying with us. Nice dinner, drinking a lot, the usual. And I don’t remember going to bed, but apparently I passed out in bed. My husband couldn’t wake me up and I had hidden 90% of the stuff for the stockings. I was like, that mom who bought them all year long, all the perfect things.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:15:01]:

    I took care of my husband’s stocking and he couldn’t wake me up and he didn’t know where any of the stuff was. So, I woke up on Christmas morning with two little kids so excited to run downstairs. Their stockings were a quarter filled maybe with stuff my husband found. My stocking was completely full because he had filled it and his stocking was completely empty and there was no way to play that off. Like, no one said anything. My husband didn’t say anything. My mother and I couldn’t go get the presents. It was just the worst.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:15:40]:

    And I was so hungover, and it was embarrassing, and I felt shame, and I was trying to pretend taking the pictures and the matching Christmas jammies, and that wasn’t when I stopped. But every time. Sober holidays are not always easy. A hangover on Christmas morning and feeling like you’re the worst mom ever, that’s not easy either.

    Gill Tietz [00:16:04]:

    Casey I really appreciate you sharing that. That makes me want to cry, hearing that story. That makes me really want to cry. I’m so and we’ve talked about this before a lot. Like, when we say we have no oh, but my drinking is not that bad. I don’t have any consequences. And here’s a perfect example. Like you said, that wasn’t around when you stopped, and it’s so easy to play these things off.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:16:31]:

    But that must have been another one of those mornings where I was like, I am the worst mom. I am the worst wife. What the hell’s wrong with me? Get my life together. And that was just this constant morning ritual in my mind, which, honestly, is a really crappy way to live.


    Casey McGuire Davidson 


    Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.


    The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.

    This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

    You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course 



    Gill Tietz [00:16:50]:

    Yeah. Those thousand cuts that you were mentioning. And then, we’ll get to the good part after. We’re not leaving it there.

    Veronica, what was the typical holiday season like for you when you were was.

    Veronica Valli [00:17:08]:

    Because I got sober so young. In England, we don’t have Thanksgiving, and Halloween is not a big deal. So everything is kind of focused on Christmas, which starts about December 1. And when you have an alcohol problem, you just love a situation where normal rules don’t apply. Right? So during December, normal drinking rules don’t apply. You can drink a lunchtime. You can absolutely start the day with champagne on Christmas Day and probably Christmas Eve and probably everything that Paul said, it’s never about Christmas. It’s not about Christmas.

    Veronica Valli [00:17:47]:

    It’s not about the holidays. It’s that I can legitimately drink more and in different ways during this time, and nobody can say anything about it because I’m protected by the holiday law of drinking that we all know about.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:18:01]:


    Veronica Valli [00:18:05]:

    In England, it’s like we are a nation of being binge drinkers, and we fully embrace this whole month of gluttony and over drinking. So, you go out and you have a Christmas party with everybody, with your work colleagues and then different departments and then your book club and your badminton club and your this and your that. So, there’s multiple events that you have to attend. Again, normal rules don’t apply. I loved it because it meant I could drink how I really wanted to drink most of the year without having to worry about anybody kind of saying anything. And it was just god, I mean, I remember one Christmas, I was in Key West, so it was just friends, and everybody was shit faced by 01:00 p.m.. And then by 04:00 p.m.. The Christmas tree had been trashed and no food. I always felt because during that period, I was single or I would be in a dysfunctional relationship. I was often in America, so I was away from my family.

    Veronica Valli [00:19:14]:

    It was any excuse to over drink, and it was just really, really lonely. I always felt like it really kind of brought home all the things I didn’t have and didn’t have a clue how to get. Like Casey’s, talking about her situation. I couldn’t manage a relationship beyond six weeks. That I get to the stage of getting married and having kids and having stockings like that was so far beyond me. So it was painful. It was messy. But most of all, and I would be around people all the time, nevertheless, it was very lonely.

    Gill Tietz [00:19:49]:

    Thank you for bringing up loneliness, because that is a big struggle for people in the holiday season, and it does accentuate it. I’m going to try to find this so I can send it to you. But I used to have this calendar meme. I didn’t make it. My husband sent it to me when I was drinking. But it was for the whole month of December, and it was color coded. And it just got worse throughout the month. And it was about what you were saying, Veronica, like, the rules don’t apply.

    Gill Tietz [00:20:21]:

    You can drink however you want. The last week before Christmas was like, destroy yourself with food and alcohol. And it was so funny back then. But it’s true. The whole month of December is really the normal rules of drinking, do not apply. And that’s our time. It’s our time to shine.

    Veronica Valli [00:20:45]:

    It’s all about perspective, because what we buy into and what’s being sold to us there is because this is fun. This is fun. You will have fun if you do this. So at the time, I believed I was having fun. And I think we can all look back with perspective and go, you know, I don’t know. There was maybe 15 minutes, a couple of days where it was fun. But mostly it was really hard work with not a great result or outcome. But that delusion of that this is fun, I mean, it’s insanity.

    Veronica Valli [00:21:22]:

    It’s insanity.

    Gill Tietz [00:21:23]:

    Yeah, that was my big problem. I thought, this is fun. And December was always a tough time for me because of the extra drinking and all the holiday parties and the normalized drinking. I think if I summed it up like Paul did, I would say humiliation and anger. Probably that’s the sum of my holidays. Pre sobriety. I would sometimes go to concerts and just get extra drunk or go to holiday parties and embarrass myself. My number one most shameful experience in drinking is during the holiday season, just from over drinking, and it feeling acceptable and extra fun.

    Gill Tietz [00:22:20]:

    But I used to get really drunk around my family, which would then just ignite the resentments that I had and make me very angry. And I thought that I had to drink in preparation of seeing my family because of the anger and the resentments. But then I actually had those really because I was drinking to see my family. I would get in alcohol fueled fights with my husband or other people that were at parties. It just really sucked. I’d wake up in my clothes full glam and I would just feel really ashamed and I would think like, I have to. Well, first of all, my husband probably noticed that I went to bed full glam with my shoes on and my party dress, but I have to get to the bathroom before anyone sees me. That was always my thought.

    Gill Tietz [00:23:20]:

    And we stay with family for the holidays. So I was never in my own house. But I did think it was really fun. Like you said, Veronica, I thought that I was having fun. I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing. I thought that’s how you celebrate the holidays. But really it wasn’t about the holidays at all. It was just about drinking as much as possible and it being socially acceptable at the time.

    Gill Tietz [00:23:46]:

    So, thank you guys for sharing all of that. I think that we hit on a lot of really important experiences that people have during this time. So I want to get to the good part. I want to get to the sober, happy holidays. And I’m curious to hear the other side. So Paul, after sobriety, what would you say about your holiday season now?

    Paul Churchill [00:24:13]:

    Yeah, thanks. Gill and Casey, Veronica and you, Gill. Great answers. I’m loving hearing this. And Veronica, when you said the word lonely, a story came to my mind. I’m going to share real quick before answering your question. In my early 20s, I owned a bar in Spain. And this is also where alcohol took me.

    Paul Churchill [00:24:28]:

    My love for alcohol and drinking. What not? And on Christmas day, I think this was like 2006 or 2007, I painted my bar by myself and halfway through that process I asked a homeless guy if he wanted to come inside the bar and help me paint. And I paid him in beer. So if that just summarizes my Christmas experience, I was painting the bar with a homeless guy, just getting wasted and it was kind of fun. But I remember the overall foundation was just like, oh my God, this is brutal. And I am masking it with beer, but we got it painted. An excellent paint job. Okay, first sober holiday, this was Christmas of 2014.

    Paul Churchill [00:25:06]:

    Overall, much, much better. And I’m going to say overall because there were moments in it where I’m like, oh my god, this is worse than f and horrible, right? And my family is great, these are normal dynamics. But when I say overall better, there is a feeling when we do something that was previously labeled impossible by the ego or own thinking mind. Right? So, I remember waking up on the 26 December, making it through that first Christmas, it was like a holy buckets. Did I just do that? So that feeling alone made it all worth it. But back it up. One day before, on Christmas Day, my family, we had rented an Airbnb in Mexico on the beach somewhere, and we were in a rental car in the afternoon. And you just feel it, like the triggers, the blood coming, boiling.

    Paul Churchill [00:25:52]:

    And I was in the backseat, and I just was like, hey, time out. I need to get out of the car right now. And my parents are supportive. They’re like, what’s going on? Just trust me. And we were in some small town in Mexico. I’ve traveled a lot in Mexico. I feel very comfortable. But they let me out at just some random town, probably 45 minutes away from our Airbnb.

    Paul Churchill [00:26:13]:

    And I remember I just had to sit at a supermarket bench before I eventually asked, hey, how do I take a bus back to the City? I had to check out, just take myself out of that situation to make it through. And sometimes you have to make these dramatic experiences. You just have to do it. Like I said, overall, it was better. I woke up the next day and said, whoa, did I just do what I previously was unable to do and what I didn’t think I could do? And of course, during that, there were moments where it was better. It’s like, well, I’m not drunk. I guess I’ll talk to my brother. I guess I’ll get to know my nephew and things like that.

    Paul Churchill [00:26:55]:

    Overall, much better. But, hey, there’s going to be challenges. And that’s part of the human condition. You just ride it out. And there might come a moment where you got to eject, eject, eject. I’m out, and see the bigger picture at hand, because if I stayed in that situation, I’m fairly confident a drink would have ended up in my hand.

    So, overall, first holiday season, and I stayed sober that New Year’s as well. And I’m still on that same current sobriety streak. Thank goodness.

    Paul Churchill [00:27:26]:

    Hope that still stays alive. And now the holidays, it’s flipped.

    Yeah. There are stressful moments, gift shopping, things like that, but I look forward to them.

    Yeah. Thanks, Gill.

    Gill Tietz [00:27:38]:

    Thank you. Paul, can you speak Spanish fluently?

    Paul Churchill [00:27:43]:

    I can, yeah. My wife is from Colombia, and we speak in Spanish. Yeah. And it didn’t get any worse when I owned a bar in Spain, but I was also just drunk and just.

    Gill Tietz [00:27:55]:

    Yeah, that’s a goal of mine. That’s why I ask. So, I think that’s really cool. Go for it.

    Casey, how about your first holiday season? What was that like?

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:28:06]:

    Yeah, that was interesting. Because I was 9 months sober, I did the thing that lots of us do the year before, where I say, January 1, New Year’s resolution, I’m going to stop drinking. And probably, like many people, my sobriety date is not January 1. It’s February 18. It takes a couple of tries to keep going, but by the time we got to Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s, I mean, I was feeling strong. I’d done a lot of work. I had hired a Sober Coach. I’d done an online program.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:28:43]:

    I had sober friends. Everyone in my life knew that I didn’t drink, so I thought it would be easy, and I was very surprised that it wasn’t. And I don’t know that it was hard not drinking, but it was really hard emotionally, which I didn’t expect. It was a big deal for me reaching the end of that year, and part of me felt like people didn’t get it, people who were really important in my life. Like my mother, who didn’t live she lives in DC. We were in Seattle. And part of it was just those memories of what I loved about drinking at the holidays. So, I remember we went to one of my best friend’s house for dinner, and we were driving back home in the dark across the bridge in Seattle with my 8-year-old and my 2-year-old in the car and my mom in the backseat.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:29:41]:

    And my son asked know, mom, do you think you’ve been good? This know, we were talking about Santa, right? And I actually said, yeah, I think I’ve been really good this year. I’ve done some very hard things, and they’re the right things, and I’m proud of myself. And it was very clear to me that I was having this sort of earnest, important discussion with my eight year old that we hadn’t really talked about before. And my mom pipes in from the backseat and says, well, I wouldn’t give yourself too much credit. And, like, crickets in the car, right? We’re driving in the dark, and I can’t. Part of me, I mean, comes of age in the 60s, kind of like, don’t think too much of yourself. That was pretty standard in my family, but it was just really hurtful, and I was stunned, and it went an awkward 30 seconds, maybe a minute, till my husband piped up and is like, Actually, I think she should give herself credit. She’s done really amazing things, and I’m really proud of her. Like, thank God.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:30:56]:

    But we got home, and I ran upstairs, and I just cried. I don’t know, just those emotions that you’re like, all right, I’m a 40-year-old woman, and I’m crying because my mother said one sentence in a car, but you’re so tender. And I got through it.

    And we enjoyed reading The Night Before Christmas with my kids and cuddled up, and I remembered the whole night and waking up without a hangover and having a coffee on Christmas morning and taking pictures of your kids with zero guilt. Like, I have to tell you, there is no better feeling in the world if you’ve had lots of hungover moments with your children that. You regret. But that night, too, my husband asked me. We were having Christmas dinner.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:31:45]:

    Oh, do you mind if your mom and I split a bottle of red wine at dinner? And red wine was my jam. I had not had red wine in my house or at my dinner table for 9 months. And I said, “okay” because I was trying to be cool. And it was their Christmas, too, and I didn’t want to impose. And it was so hard for me, the bottle being within arm’s reach, these two people drinking it. I felt like they were making out with my ex-boyfriend, and I loved him so much more than they ever could, and they were doing it right in front of me. It obsessed. Like, it took over the entire dinner, and they’re normal.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:32:26]:

    So, they drank it incredibly slowly. It probably took them 2 hours to finish this bottle of, like, they took it to the game table. I took my daughter up to bed. I came down. I was filling up their glass, being like, if you guys don’t freaking drink this, I’m going to kill you, because I need it gone. And you do what you do. I texted my Sober bestie. I bitched about them.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:32:51]:

    I got all my anger out. I didn’t drink. And I should have had better boundaries, and I should have spoken up, and it was my holiday, too. So the next night, when my mother in law was like, well, we can grab another bottle of wine, I was like, no, you’re done. That was it. This is not happy to get. And I was like, you can drink beer because that was not my jam. You can drink a mixed drink because that was not my jam.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:33:16]:

    But there will be zero wine bottles on my table, and we haven’t had wine bottles on our table at an intimate dinner party since then. If there’s a big party and it’s “BYOB and people are milling around, that’s totally cool. But it was harder than I thought it would be.

    Gill Tietz [00:33:36]:

    I really appreciate that story, and it’s hard because we don’t want to inconvenience other people or ruin their holiday. But like you said, no one cares about that bottle as much as you.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:33:50]:

    Did, and you don’t want to make.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:33:53]:

    It a big deal, right? It’s awkward to be like, so I quit drinking, and I was addicted to it. And you can’t drink, right? It’s awkward. You’re like, I’m trying to be cool. I’m trying to be fun. I’m trying to not make it someone else’s deal. And yet, if it is hard for you and the people love you, you need to speak up for what you need, and they will adjust. Like, they can go at dinner without a bottle of wine. They will not die.

    Gill Tietz [00:34:25]:

    They won’t. They really won’t.

    Veronica, what was your first sober holiday season like?

    Veronica Valli [00:34:36]:

    It was a long time ago. I was in Key West and I was about 7 months. I was. I wavered for a long time. I was not drinking but I didn’t know that was going to be forever thing and I was in AA at that point. So what I did is I invited my mother over for Christmas for like two months. I think she came or a month or it was a long time and that’s the hardest relationship in my life and I think if she was there it kind of like I couldn’t fuck up right? Because I couldn’t go out on vendors for two nights or whatever. And I think I thought that it was some kind of amends because I’d been such a terrible daughter. So, what I did is just brought a lot of stress and trigger into my very small apartment for weeks on end.

    Veronica Valli [00:35:38]:

    But my first two Christmases I had the option to work on Christmas Day around the holiday, just work a lot. I lived in Key West and it’s tourist season so it’s very busy. So, I did that and that helped me a lot. Working like, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and that helped me a lot like the first couple of years because we’re actually really responsible people. Like, when I’m drinking, I’m very irresponsible but we’re not generally. I’m responsible, I’ll show up, all that kind of stuff. So, I took the responsibility seriously. It kept me busy, kept me distracted and that really worked for me.

    I had a really big definitely, I mean I think the first couple of years I definitely had a sense of missing out. Again I was in my twenty s and everybody around me was partying and telling me what great time they were having.

    Veronica Valli [00:36:37]:

    So the busyness and the work kind of kept me safe. I don’t think my Christmases have changed a lot. I was ten years sober when I had my first child. And the holiday seasons have been wonderful for a long time, but I worked, and I went to a lot of AA meetings, and I hung out with a lot of sober people, and I did have a sense of missing out. But again, it’s a long time ago. But I feel like I managed them. And I do feel like I did start getting the glimpses of kind of looking at other people and going, you know what? That doesn’t actually look as much fun as what you’re saying. It know actually you’ve missed work and you look got I drank and got sober in Key western Florida which is a big party place and it’s not like a couple of glasses of wine place.

    Veronica Valli [00:37:38]:

    It’s an absolutely getting shit faced place. And I think that is also where my know that perspective shift that happens where you’re huh that’s how I used to be and it just doesn’t look so attractive. It’s such a long time ago. I’ve had so many sober Christmases. I’ve had, I’ve had way more sober Christmases than I’ve ever had drinking ones. So that’s as much as I remember, to be honest.

    Gill Tietz [00:38:07]:

    Yeah. And I think that’s important to break down that belief that drinking that way is fun and start seeing that, no, actually, this doesn’t look very fun, because then that helps with all of the FOMO pre drinking. I used to work on all the holidays too, and that helped me a lot. I wasn’t, like, trying to be sober because I hadn’t even drank yet. I started drinking late, but I was very angry on the holiday seasons, so I would just I’m I like that you said that, too. It does really help if you can work or you can volunteer or help other people in some way, go to an AA meeting. It is a nice break.

    Veronica Valli [00:38:59]:

    And I was single and I didn’t have children. And my struggle, honestly, at Christmas, and this is the struggle when I got sober, it wasn’t alcohol, it was the loneliness and disconnection. I had to do a lot more work on myself and sobriety to be able to have a relationship. So the struggle for me, like Casey, it was really interesting what you were saying. It wasn’t alcohol, it was what the holiday season did for me is it shone a light on all the things I didn’t have and I didn’t know how to get. It’s. Like, there’s nothing more depressing than being 30 something and spending Christmas again with your mum. Right.

    Veronica Valli [00:39:38]:

    So that was actually the biggest challenge for me. And the work that I had to do in sobriety was it was that the stuff that I didn’t have, not so much the alcohol. Because once your perception shifts, that’s so helpful. I felt like, I don’t know, but my third sober Christmas, I was like, I’m so glad I don’t have to do that. You all look awful.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:40:04]:


    Veronica Valli [00:40:05]:

    It’s December 14 and you all look terrible. And we’ve still got, like, three weeks to go and I’m really glad I’m not doing this. And another drinks party and another whatever.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:40:15]:

    So, Gill, what about you? And you mentioned anger a couple times and I think you just got Certified as an Anger Management Coach, is that right?

    Gill Tietz [00:40:27]:

    I am, yeah. Thank you, Casey. I haven’t told anyone.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:40:32]:

    I’ll just announce it for you. Don’t mind me.

    Gill Tietz [00:40:35]:

    Thank you. No. I have been keeping it secret. I don’t know why, but I told you and I’m on the website, the official National Anger Management Association website, but I think I’ve mentioned anger 57 times so far. It was clearly a problem. It continued to be a problem for me in the beginning and I wanted to learn more about it.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:41:00]:

    I think we always work on what we need to learn and help other people with what we’ve been through. And I think that’s awesome, because if you don’t understand it, it’s really hard to empathize and get in the mind of the people who are struggling with it. So I think it’s very cool.

    Gill Tietz [00:41:20]:

    Thank you. So, my first holiday season, it was a lot of FOMO, like Veronica was saying, and a lot of stress. I was very worried about what other people would think because I was a little baby sober. I was right in the first six weeks, I think Christmas, I was like six weeks sober. So all the parties leading up to it, I was just a little baby in sobriety. And there were a lot of parties for work and friends and all this stuff. Friends stopped inviting me to their parties, so that hurt me. But I got invited to all the work parties, obviously, and I would go, and then I would cry because of all the stress.

    Gill Tietz [00:42:14]:

    But then after I cried, then I had that thing that Paul was talking about where it was like, wow, I just did a thing that I didn’t think I’d ever do. Look at me. And then I felt really great. So I had that routine for a bit, and I worried obsessively about Christmas because we go to my in laws every year, and they like to drink and party. They like to have fun in that way. And I was worried that people wouldn’t want to hang out with me and they would think I was weird and that I would make them feel uncomfortable or that they would bring up all the embarrassing things that I did all the years before or all the fights, all the drunk fights. But everyone was very nice to me. And my mother in law even told me that she tried to find nonalcoholic champagne for me so that I could participate on Christmas Day.

    Gill Tietz [00:43:21]:

    And she was following me online, and she saw that I was into Nas. And I was gifted wine for was Casey. I bet you can feel this. I was gifted European wines from all around different countries in Europe. And that was my thing, like, the classy, romanticized part of it. And that would have been my ideal gift pre sobriety. And I had this huge wine case in front of me. Like, I didn’t even want to touch it. It felt like something bad would happen to me if I even touched it.

    Gill Tietz [00:44:05]:

    And my husband and my mother in law both knew my situation, and they discussed privately that they would just hide it, and then my mother in law would keep it, and I didn’t have to even talk about it or think about it.

    So, I was really grateful that they took care of me. So I think, overall, my first holiday was surprising because people took better care of me than I thought. I thought that, first of all, no one would like me anymore, and they’d judge me, but they were actually really supportive. I didn’t even expect people to be neutral, but then here they are, being really considerate and kind, and it just made me feel really comfortable, and I got through it, and I got some of that confidence, and then I did it again, and every year was better. And then I started seeing what drunk people are like, Veronica was saying, and it’s like, I don’t want any more of that, please. Is that what I actually looked like?

    And yeah, every year just got better and better for me. And that doesn’t mean, like, it was perfect right away, but I wasn’t worried about waking up full glam after a blackout or trying to piece together the humiliation from the night before or just being completely pissed off.

    Gill Tietz [00:45:36]:

    Everything was just a little bit easier. I went on walks with my mother in law, and we actually connected, which was nice. So, it was just better in every way.

    Veronica Valli [00:45:46]:

    Can I just say, there’s something weird that happens when you get sober. You will never win more prizes that are alcohol or get more gifts that are alcohol at the holidays than when you are sober. Like, I swear to God, when I was drinking, I never got free alcohol ever. And then if I got into a raffle, I will win the wine. People still give me multiple bottles at Christmas from different still well, people just don’t know, like, a new neighbor or that kind of thing. And I’m just oh, thank you very much. I don’t really put it in the garage and give it to you. Gift it to someone.

    Veronica Valli [00:46:25]:

    There’s a sort of irony about that.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:46:28]:

    Oh, I got one of those. You know those, hey, create your own cork board. Out of the million wine bottle corks, you get, like, a crafting kit. And I was like, oh, my God, because I used to have so many you drink eight bottles of wine a night for an entire two months.

    Veronica Valli [00:46:49]:

    You got a lot of wine bottles.

    Gill Tietz [00:46:53]:

    Paul, did you ever get alcohol gifts after sobriety?

    Paul Churchill [00:46:59]:

    I’ve received plenty of alcohol gifts. I remember helping a neighbor move one time upstairs, a heavy furniture, and he came the next day with a 6 pack. It’s like, I’m sober, but hey, I didn’t say that. Oh, thank you so much. I love this. Yeah, that’s an issue, for sure.

    Yeah. Unfortunately, I have had to set the boundary within my family after, like, 4 or 5 Christmases.

    Paul Churchill [00:47:22]:

    Just, like, an idea. Hey, guys. Alcoholism has kind of ravaged our family. I think we can do better within our family than giving somebody else beer socks or, like, a clock with a whiskey themed logo behind it. And that was a serious conversation. It’s like, I think we can do a little bit better than this. Alcohol ism has wreaked havoc in our family. Let’s go a different pathway.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:47:46]:

    Did they get it?

    Paul Churchill [00:47:47]:

    They did, yeah. And a lot of people, they don’t think about it. Right, I understand. And I think one of the biggest challenges for somebody newly sober navigating holiday for the first time. Part of that could be the gifts like what’s coming? What’s under the ribbon? It could be a gift of this sort. But I think the biggest one there is breaking the cycle. A lot of this is habits. Addiction is not just a habit.

    Paul Churchill [00:48:10]:

    It is very in depth in many things. But I think breaking the cycle for yourself. For yourself. I don’t know if it was my first Christmas or whatnot I found myself like in a closet. I was like, oh, that’s right, I don’t drink by myself alone in closets anymore while everybody else is out listening to music. Okay, I’m going to go outside. Part of it is we’re trying to quit drinking in a drunk world, but also that perception is not entirely correct as well. I think the biggest challenge for somebody going into the holidays is confronting your own personal stigmas perceptions internally.

    Paul Churchill [00:48:43]:

    Because what I found the stigma is mostly false. Let me explain that. We think when we walk into our first sober holiday that the record’s going to stop. Oh, my God. Uncle Paul is not. It doesn’t happen. I’m not that important. People don’t care about what I’m drinking. And in fact, I remember talking to my parents going to one of these events, they’re like, oh, did you know what’s? His name doesn’t drink either.

    Paul Churchill [00:49:06]:

    I’m like, what? Yeah, he’s never drank at Thanksgiving or he’s never drank at Christmas. So not everybody is kung fu fighting. Like my mind tells me it’s going to be. And really when I would tell somebody, oh, I’m not drinking again, my mind would be like, you’re going to get booted out of this family event. But the opposite was like, whoa, that’s great. Can I still get you a drink? Maybe one that doesn’t contain alcohol and like, hey, do you want something to drink? We think that question is only about alcohol. It’s like, yeah, I’ll have a cherry coke or I’ll have all the soda water. There’s so many options.

    Paul Churchill [00:49:44]:

    So the biggest challenge was me facing those internal voices and seeing them for what they are and doing something that I didn’t think I could do.

    Gill Tietz [00:49:54]:

    I love that and you’re so right. No one is thinking about how we don’t drink. They might think about it because it’s a new change, like a new development, but then it becomes old news really fast and people go back to thinking about themselves and their own drinking maybe, or somebody else’s drinking. But our drinking and what’s in our glass is not a huge priority for everybody that encounters us.

    Paul Churchill [00:50:19]:

    I thought I was more important.

    Same. But I wasn’t.

    No one really cared. Same.

    Gill Tietz [00:50:25]:

    I thought that I was going to be rejected, too. So Paul, along these lines, what would you say your biggest tip is then? If this is someone’s first holiday season or they’re nervous about it, what would you tell them?

    Paul Churchill [00:50:37]:

    Okay, this is an unequivocal easy one for me. It’s a tough one to implement, but it’s so easy. Your chances of staying sober at a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner or event are very low if you’re the only one there who knows about your goal to be sober. So, again, this is an easy one in theory, but actually sending the text or the email or the phone call is quite difficult. But your chances go up astronomically with every person that knows. And I had the luxury of having it in MP3 format, a podcast that circulated within the family.

    Oh, shit. Paul’s got a sober podcast on iTunes.

    Paul Churchill [00:51:13]:

    My goodness. And that did a lot of favors for me. That burned a lot of ships without me having to actually have those conversations and then I actually got feedback at those events. Hey, we heard about your podcast. That’s awesome stuff. But I would recommend you send an email or text to as many people you can that are going to be there. And it can be this simple. Hello, Uncle Tom, just want to let you know I’m not going to be drinking at Christmas this time.

    Paul Churchill [00:51:39]:

    That could be it. Let me know if you have any questions. Looking forward to it. The football games this year are going to be fun. That’s it. But people, you got to create that accountability before you go, not when you go. And there’s almost this formula that takes place in the sobriety world. You’re accountable, you burn the ships.

    Paul Churchill [00:51:58]:

    And that creates accountability and then that creates community. I have told so many people in this journey, like, I don’t drink. And there’s like unconscious response. People always respond. It’s like an invitation to be authentic or vulnerable. Oh, no way, that’s great. My cousin or my brother or I’ve also been questioning my drinking very few times. In fact, never if it’s like, hey, I’m not drinking.

    Paul Churchill [00:52:27]:

    Are you serious? What that is, is that person is uncomfortable with their own relationship to alcohol. Like, that’s an easy one right now. For me to feel it, to see that.

    Gill Tietz [00:52:37]:

    Yeah, I totally agree. I think telling people so then they don’t offer it to you and then, you know, they know it does really help. And even when I was I tried to imagine myself, even when I was that heavy drinker, if I met someone that was sober, I thought they were really cool. I never gave them crap like I was a drink pusher on moderate drinkers. But if somebody didn’t drink at all, whether they were sober, they just didn’t like it. I was amazed by them. I’m like, how can they be here and they’re just themselves and they’re cool.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:53:15]:

    With I mean, I totally agree with Paul. My number one tip is to tell people in advance, not when you walk in the door like a deer in the headlights. Because the first question someone’s going to ask you is, can I get you a drink and what they’re going to offer you is beer, wine, champagne or whatever cocktail they’ve whipped up. And in my mind, part of that is the host just wants to check you off the list, right? They’ve got 510, 1520 people. They just want to make sure you’re taken care of and happy, so that they can move on to the next thing and they don’t know what they don’t know. So, I personally totally agree. I think you should every time text people in advance. You can email people too, and just I recommend if you’re not ready to tell people that you’re sober or anything else, just being like,

    “hey, by the way, I’m not drinking this holiday.
    I’m doing a no alcohol challenge, but really looking forward to XYZ and I’m going to be bringing my own drinks.”

    Keep it positive, keep it somewhat light. Unless they come back and ask more. I even went to Nantucket with all my College girlfriends for a 3-day weekend, which I drank a ton in College and it was really hard, but I texted them all in advance because there was no way I was going to make it through and they still all drank around me. We still went to bars, it was not easy, but just them knowing and some people asked thoughtful questions and offered support and that was great.

    The other thing I’d suggest is bring your own nonalcoholic beverages and keep a glass in your hand at all times and for some people that’s Pellegrino, for some people that’s nonalcoholic champagne, I’m actually a huge fan of that. Or Bubbly Rose or nonalcoholic beer, but for some people that’s a trigger. Just kind of know yourself, know what works for you.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:55:23]:

    Also ,people bring kombucha, people bring hot chocolate, know just enjoying that sugar hit and it’s festive. Or non-alcoholic eggnog.

    Sorry Paul, that could give you a ache but it won’t get you drunk depending on if it’s spiked. So, bringing your own non-alcoholic stuff is good. And the other thing I think is just knowing that you’re able to change traditions and knowing what’s triggering for you, just recognizing in advance. So even if you usually go over to your in-law’s house from 02:00 p.m. To midnight one in the morning every holiday, you don’t have to do that. You can say, oh actually I’m really excited to do X. I will be there at this time for dinner, really looking forward to it and mixing it up with stuff you always said you were going to do but never did.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [00:56:20]:

    So go for the hike, go snowshoeing, go watch people doing a turkey trot and stay wherever you are later in the day so you get to Thanksgiving later in the day. And also don’t stay with your family if they’re a huge trigger. I think it’s awkward, but also good if someone’s coming to Seattle and they’re staying with their family and that’s incredibly hard to be like so excited to come to Seattle and I’ve always wanted to stay downtown by the Great Wheel, so I’m going to do that and can’t wait to see you on XYZ time. So you have your own space, you get to leave. You don’t have to be there first thing in the morning and talk to people who are difficult all day long and feel awkward if you take time for yourself. So those are my tips.

    Gill Tietz [00:57:17]:

    I completely agree, Casey. Thank you.

    Veronica, what would you say, too.

    Veronica Valli [00:57:22]:

    Newbie I think Paul and Casey have really nailed it for me. What I would say is it’s really no different than any other time of the year when you’re in early sobriety. And that sobriety has to be your main thing. It just has to be your main thing. I want to stress that early sobriety is very unique. The first year or so is a unique part of the process and medium and long term sobriety are not like that. And I think people can get kind of think, is this how it’s going to be? Is this how it’s going to be for the rest of my life? Like every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, I’m going to be like the only one not drinking and the only one sitting there staring at the wine. It’s not going to be like this long term because it’s not sustainable like that.

    Veronica Valli [00:58:07]:

    But the first year is very weird and it’s because of the firsts. You need to go through all of the first, the first Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving and all that kind of stuff. And they are weird. They’re going to be weird. They’re going to be strange. And then eventually they just become your new normal. And you don’t even think about it. I just don’t think about it.

    Veronica Valli [00:58:26]:

    I haven’t thought about alcohol or drinking or wanting to drink for decades. I think that’s the most important thing to take away is that early sobriety is a unique experience. You can’t avoid it. You’re going to have to go through it. It you’re going to have to put your sobriety first, which may mean you make different decisions. It may mean you volunteer on Thanksgiving or Christmas instead of going to the family dinner because it’s just too triggering and you don’t feel strong enough. It’s not always going to be like this.

    So, I would put your sobriety first, do whatever you need to do to stay safe and sober and know that this is all a process and it will change. And sobriety will eventually become your new normal.

    Gill Tietz [00:59:06]:

    Thank you, Veronica. I think you guys got everything I was thinking. Those were amazing tips.

    I think I would add on to what Paul said about telling people. I would also make sure that you have people that you could text or call or DM or whatever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable or you just need a break, step outside and get some fresh air and send a text and check in or make a post if you’re in a community, but just some way to have sober people who get it. Know that you’re in a situation that you feel stressed about. That helped me a lot, too.

    Gill Tietz [00:59:55]:

    And when you get through it and you build your sober mojo, then you can have people to brag to that you did it. So it works both ways. But thank you guys so much for doing this.

    Paul, where can we connect with you and learn more about what you do?

    Paul Churchill [01:00:18]:

    Yeah, thanks, Gill, for putting this together. Casey, great to see you again. And Veronica, nice to meet you.

    Okay, so the podcast is called, Recovery Elevator. There’s an episode every Monday. Recoveryelevator.com. We’re on Instagram, all that fun stuff. YouTube.

    Paul Churchill [01:00:32]:

    Yeah. Thanks, Gill.

    Gill Tietz [01:00:32]:

    Appreciate it. Casey, where can we connect with you?

    Casey McGuire Davidson [01:00:36]:

    Yeah, I wanted to say I really enjoyed this, too. And it actually what I think is hopefully going to be really helpful is people hearing from people who went through holidays that were at different stages in their life – who got sober super young, who were with their families, were not with their families, who were older, but going to their in-laws.

    And for me, being around kids and my husband and all that stuff, I mean, I think it’s unique, and I think people listening are going to be at very different points in their lives and different levels of support. So, thank you.

    When this is on my podcast, I really appreciate the different perspectives. You can find me at Hello Someday Coaching. That’s my website. That’s where you can find programs and support and lots of free resources.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [01:01:31]:

    My podcast is also the Hello Someday podcast, and I have 200 episodes that cover all the things, mostly for women. It’s sort of a Coaching approach with lots of therapists and authors for lots of women, lots of working women, and lots of women with children. So, that’s where you can find me.

    Gill Tietz [01:01:53]:

    Thank you, Casey and I agree. I think we hit a lot of very different experiences and perspectives.

    Veronica, where can we learn more about you and connect with your work?

    Veronica Valli [01:02:05]:

    So my books are on Amazon. Soberful by Veronica Valley. And then there’s the Soberful podcast. I’m on Instagram. It’s Veronica. J Valli. Just Google Veronica Valli and Soberful. Lots of stuff comes up.

    Gill Tietz [01:02:17]:

    Thank you. And if you’re looking for me, if you search Sober Powered, you’ll find me. That’s my podcast and my website and everything else, and I’ll have links to everybody’s stuff in the show notes.

    And happy holidays, guys, and thank you for joining me.

    Veronica Valli [01:02:38]:

    Thanks so much.

    Casey McGuire Davidson [01:02:40]:

    Yeah, thank you.

    Paul Churchill [01:02:41]:

    Yeah. Thanks, Gill. This is great.



    Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 



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