From the November 2010 magazine.

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CHRISTMAS day 2008 was just as sorry as the past 28 had been. I had good intentions to stay sociable with my family, to not piss and moan and sulk that I hadn't gotten any gifts, and endure watching my sisters enjoying their Christmas holiday with their husbands and kids while I remained single and alone. This year was even more of a challenge because I had just put my beloved dog Belvedere to sleep in November, due to cancer. Good intentions often fail, and mine failed miserably. I behaved like a sloth, sharing in every toast of wine, sneaking to my room for a swig--or four--of vodka every half hour, and offending everyone by slurring my words and passing out before the end of dinner.

I woke up on the morning of Dec. 26 full of hope, thinking that I had had my last drink the previous day. More relatives were arriving for a post-holiday visit.

-- KIM S.

Kennett Square, Pa.

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