A Sober Thanksgiving Story

Thank you to the leader of our Parents’ Support Group (2nd and 4th Tues’s), Richard Roisman, for offering wisdom to all who are seeking a sober Thanksgiving…
It was late November, 2006.  Sarah, then 15, had been at Caron since September 15, 2006.  She was, therefore, in adolescent extended care, and we had been through the Family Education Program. While we had been able to take her from Caron for a few hours at a time a couple of times over the couple of months she had been there, she had not yet earned a homestay from treatment.  Thanksgiving was to be her first day out of rehab.

Needless to say, we were excited (and very anxious) to have her home for a night and our family together for the holiday.  The turkey was purchased, food preparation was underway, Anna and Abraham, Sarah’s older brother and sister, who had not seen Sarah since she had gone to rehab, were heading home from school and (sort of) looking forward to seeing her.
The Mothers, Sarah’s grandmother’s, were likewise looking forward to seeing Sarah, as well as their other grandchildren.
This was to be our first sober Thanksgiving.  No booze or drugs, and consistent with Sarah’s program at Caron, no real visible or tangible evidence or reminders of booze or drugs.  We had gone through the house and “soberized it.”
Sarah’s recovery at Caron had been, for the most part, uneventful.  There was an incident in which we were asked to come to rehab on virtually no notice, to enable our daughter – which didn’t sit particularly well with me.  And we shared with the professional staff at Caron some concern that Sarah had been entirely too compliant with the program, too comfortable.  For Sarah, Caron was not unlike overnight camp.
On Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we learned that Sarah’s overnight pass had been revoked: What on earth could she have done to cause this to occur?  Well, we learned that one of her “friends,” as she was leaving rehab, gave Sarah her gauging earrings (or at least that’s one way to describe them).  These are the studs that you put (will probably not you) in your ear lobes to create, and eventually, through increasing the size of the studs, really large holes in your ears.  Someone, somewhere, outside of Africa, circa 1920, must think this is an attractive look.  Caron views this behavior as self-mutilating, addictive, or at least inappropriate behavior.  I kinda agree.  Fortunately, Sarah’s ear lobes have not been subjected to gauging.  (We could talk about her older sister’s earlobes, but that was an involuntary parental gauging event.)
In any event, we were stunned by this news.  We were disappointed, angry and resentful (assuming her siblings could be any more resentful than they already were, given the attention and resources that were being devoted to Sarah’s recovery).
We asked and were permitted to take Sarah to a Thanksgiving dinner; however, she could not leave the area as there wouldn’t be much time – I think she had a two or three hour pass.
You know, it’s all about attitude.  Sure, Thanksgiving was ruined, at least in the traditional sense, but perhaps we could make it at least interesting.  We asked for some advice, a recommendation for someplace to have Thanksgiving dinner.
The Heidelberg Family Restaurant was the recommendation.  I don’t think I could find it without a GPS, but we hustled up to Caron, with the Moms, then 85 and 82, but mobile and “with it,” liberated Sarah and headed to the Heidelberg.
Thanksgiving at the Heidelberg is a buffet.  Remember when they served turkey in elementary school?  You get the idea.  I don’t know (and probably do not want to know) what is in that yellow gravy, but that afternoon, I enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed all the other trimmings, and dessert, although I can’t recall specifically what any of it was, including dessert.  I do recall that my mom just had to order off the Thanksgiving menu for dessert.  To this day, I harbor a resentment that she did so, because that brought the tab for the seven of us to over $100; to $101.50..
We had a wonderful time.  We really did.  The best part was that my other children remember this Thanksgiving so fondly.  I put together a list of  the top 10 reasons why we should be thankful on that Thanksgiving.  Lee may remember some of them.  I’m going to try and find it – it was well received (at least as well received as some of Letterman’s lists).
No booze, no drugs, and little discussion of booze and drugs.  I don’t recall what we talked about, but it never got heavy.  I don’t think we discussed the future.  We definitely did not dwell on Sarah’s future, if we discussed it at all.  I remember that we made fun of each other, although my memory may be faulty on this point.  More likely, my family made fun of me (which is my family’s favorite activity when we get together).
We took a break.  We had been hard on ourselves and each other for a while.  We truly were in the “one day at a time” mode.  It was swell.
I do not know what your plans are for Thanksgiving, but I hope they include a “break” like we had eight years ago and have taken ever since.  I wish you and your family a sober and serene day, an opportunity to be grateful for what we have.  We can always find something on the asset side of the ledger, can’t we?  How about hope?
See you tomorrow.
With warmest regards,