Ask Katie: How Do I Not Be the Sober Buzzkill During the Holidays?

This piece is part of the regular Ask Katie* advice column series at The Fix.

Hi Katie,

This is my third holiday season sober. I come from a big, Irish family and we see each other fairly frequently, though we’re rarely all together (there’s like 25 of us) except at the holidays. I know how our holiday parties go because I used to look forward to them — at least until the very end of my drinking. At this point, it’s not even the drinking that bothers me. I’m used to being the only sober one. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but I can deal with it. What I find really upsetting is when everyone looks at me like I’m the wet blanket. Like, I won’t laugh at the dumb joke my drunk uncle has told for the fifth time, because I’ve already heard it five times. Or if I’m annoyed by my brothers’ dumb antics, they’ll tell me to suck it up and not be so sensitive — but because they’re buzzed, they don’t realize how mean they sound. My family says they’re supportive of my sobriety but they never think about how being sober in a room full of happy but drunk people makes me feel. I’m not trying to kill their good time, but I also don’t want to pretend like getting whisky spilled down the front of my dress (happened last year) is just part of the holiday fun. Any suggestions about how to handle this? (P.S. not going is not an option. My family would be furious.)



Oh, Buzzkill, I can relate! You are asking this question to a bona fide party pooper. The good news is that you have family who is, at least in theory, supportive of your sobriety. While it’s fair to say they’re being insensitive, it doesn’t sound like they are questioning your need to be sober or trying to push booze onto you (though spilling it on you is not great). That would be a much more unworkable situation.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that your family isn’t being particularly thoughtful about how their behavior impacts you. (continued)


*I am not an expert or a mental health or medical professional; I’m a sober person offering my experiences and advice about sobriety. Every other Tuesday I will one recovery-related question posed by Fix readers, based on my experience. Send your general advice questions to me at with the subject “Ask Katie.” 

By submitting a question to this website, you grant The Fix permission to publish it on its site. All questions will remain anonymous. Due to the large number of questions received, The Fix cannot guarantee a response. But they do check back frequently!

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Katie MacBride is a freelance journalist, essayist, and co-founder/associate editor of Anxy magazine. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, Vice, Playboy, and Buzzfeed, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @msmacb

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