I Spent The Entire Holiday Season Sober And This Is What Happened

by Gigi Engle

I ruined Thanksgiving last year.

I got completely smashed while drinking wine and making dinner with my mother. I ended up blacking out before dinner and passing out in an extremely unflattering position just after dessert. Clearly, it wasn't my best night.

Looking back, I can see that it was the tipping point of what had been a very emotionally unstable and tumultuous year for me.

My favorite thing to do in the evenings used to be drinking a bottle of wine and watching my stories. But this kind of lifestyle was taking its toll. I was genuinely sick of being hungover and feeling sluggish. I also very much wanted to quit smoking. There is nothing cute about a 25-year-old woman who smokes cigarettes. But when I drink, I am incapable of resisting cigarettes.

So around November of this past year, I really wanted to cut back on drinking. I decided the best place to start was by getting completely sober.

With the holidays quickly approaching, this was probably the worst time to try to ditch the bottle. But I'm a person who gets off on extremes, so I went with it. I decided to stop all drinking and smoking for the 2015 holiday season. I knew if I could survive the holidays sober, I could survive anything.

Here's how it went:


The common denominators in the times in my life that I've become a violent person are overindulgence in alcohol and the presence of my family.

When I'm drunk with my friends, I usually have a good time. But nearly every time I've gotten "angry drunk," it's been with my family. I have the type of family that calls each other on our sh*t, to the point of rudeness.

Not to mention that drinking around my family always leads to disappointed looks and harsh words the next morning. My parents don't drink at all, so when I drink around them, they treat me like I'm clearly an alcoholic.

So I felt both happy and a little awkward when my parents said how proud they were that I wasn't drinking.

But when I told them, "I'm not drinking," I didn't mean, "I'm never ever drinking again. EVER." What I meant was that I was not going to drink like I used to. So now I feel like I'm going to face a whole other kind of pressure if I decide to drink occasionally around them again in the future.

My younger brother also made me feel like complete sh*t about drinking. I thought he'd say, "WTF, take this shot now!" or "No, I am not getting drunk alone to deal with our family." Instead, he told me that I had a serious drinking problem, so it was good I wasn't drinking. He then added that this "problem" would follow me forever.

My siblings really are my best friends, but I'll likely never touch alcohol with my brother ever again. I'm completely fine with that.

I've always planned to move closer my family when I decide to start a family of my own. But that plan isn't looking so bright right now because I feel like this intense pressure is growing around me to be this perfect, put-together person. And I don't know if I am that person.

The office holiday party

I get along really well with my team, so the office holiday party was a lot of fun.

I was drinking seltzers with lime to make it look like I had a cocktail in my hand. Only one or two times did someone ask me about being sober.

"You're not drinking anymore, right? Do you like it?" one coworker asked me. I wasn't really sure how to answer this, so I went with an awkward "Yes!" and then ran away to get a non-alcoholic beverage.

I danced my ass off and did everything in my power to have a good time. I gorged myself on hors d'oeuvres -- calories I wasn't wasting in alcohol.

The party was on a Wednesday night, and it felt amazing not to be hungover the next day. I supported all my hungover coworkers, while feeling great. And I'm not going to lie: It was nice.

I also noticed something substantial in the weeks I'd given up liquor: I had so much more energy. When I was once so tired from work that all I could do was go home, drink wine and sleep, I was now hitting the gym, grocery shopping and cleaning my apartment. It's incredible how much your health improves the longer you go without alcohol.


Christmas without alcohol was really comfortable, despite the stress of being around family.

Aside from my brief brush with an ill-advised "tea detox," being home for those two weeks was actually like a rejuvenating vacation. I even worked out every day. I watched the entire first season of "Outlander" while hitting the treadmill and using my mom's free weights. I was relaxed, happy and full of energy.

Our Christmas Eve party is always at my cousin's house. It was a great time. We ate a ton of delicious food and candy. In past years, this party has gotten ROWDY. This year, it was rather calm. I was relieved things didn't get out of control, as I was the DD and needed to wait until everyone was ready to go home.

My boyfriend arrived just after Christmas, and having him around made things even better. He wasn't drinking either, so it was nice to have some companionship. Being home with my family and bae was perfect because I had all my favorite people in one place.

This Christmas was the best one I've had in a long time.


After two months of staying sober during the holidays, I've decided just to continue with it. I've never felt so healthy in my life. My sleep has improved dramatically, my abs are actually showing, and my anxiety is under control. My skin has also drastically improved. My sister even said I'm looking younger than I have in years.

I can say with complete honesty that I'm at a point where I don't need alcohol to have fun. Seriously.

Whether I'm sober or not, I have a f*cking AWESOME time at any social gathering. I'm the drunkest person at the party even when I haven't had a drop of alcohol. I will dance on tables, rock out to music and talk to every drunk person like a normal human. Because who has time for being judgy? Drink or don't drink. I don't give a f*ck. Just have the best time!

I'll still have the occasional night out for special occasions, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Drinking on occasion isn't a bad thing, but drinking all the time is terrible for your health.

As an adult, I'm ready to move into this new phase of my life.