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      I know the Christmas period can be hard for some, it can put a lot of pressure on people and cause a lot of stress – and that’s for the general population not just Compulsive Gamblers and their families!

      For me though Christmas is massive in my recovery; it really highlights the difference between how things are now and how things were when I gambled.

      When I was gambling I was single and would be staying at my mums, either because I was unemployed or because I had a few days off work over Christmas. Presents would depend on how my luck was running in the run up to Christmas – most years that meant cheap chocolates and socks for my loved ones! All bought on Christmas Eve of course.

      We would usually have Christmas lunch at my brother’s house. While dinner was in the oven a lot of us would pop down the pub for a drink. In those days of course I had what could be described as a “convenient bladder” – I had to nip to the loo any time it looked like a round of drinks needed buying!

      Then it would be lunch, all the family sat around the table. All of them knowing that I was in the **** and all of them knowing I would be planning to have a big punt the next day to try and get myself out of it. My mum would be worried sick. The rest of my family would be avoiding the subject, trying to get through the day without an argument or upsetting mum. I would be just sat there wondering what the problem was – after all I was going to win a fortune the next day wasn’t I? In reality, no. On the odd occasion that I did manage to win my way out of a hole then I’d just start digging another hole, after all I’m a Compulsive gambler, it’s what we do. My focus would never be on enjoying the day and time spenntwith my family, it would be on planning my bets across all the horse racing and sport happening the next day.

      This Christmas. We will be driving down to my brothers on Christmas eve. All presents have been long since bought. My siblings and I don’t tend to get each other presents so we will just be taking a contribution to the drinks cabinet – they will be feeding us for a couple of days! Christmas morning we will take the dog for a walk on the beach. There are usually several hundred lunatics who run in for a swim – a local tradtion i won’t be taking part in lol For lunch we will have lots to eat and be sat around a table wearing silly hats and enjoying each others company. Not sure if we will be going to the pub, still being Covid cautious, but if we do I will be buying the first round – I always do now, even though I’m the only one who knows why.

      On Boxing Day we ill be visiting another brother. One of my brothers likes to have a bet on the horses – he knows not to discuss is bets of any wins/losses when I’m there. I think he usually records the racrs and watches them when I’m walking the dog. No reason he shouldn’t – I’m the one with the problem not him.

      I LOVE Christmas. I’m not religious so for me it is a time when none of my family are working so we can all enjoy the time together.

      If gambling means that this Christmas might not be a good one for you then I would say that what future Christmases are like depend on what you do now.

      I wish everyone a very merry, safe Christmas.

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