Curing My Holiday Hangover

Sarah Cairoli  |   Wednesday Dec. 31st, 2014

Maybe I drank too much Bailey’s Irish Cream over the holidays. I know I ate too many cookies because being able to button my pants again is on my list of New Year’s Resolutions. Overindulgence and overabundance define my holiday, and I would like to think I am not alone here. It’s usually about 4 o’clock on Christmas afternoon when the holiday hangover starts to settle in. I’m sipping my Bailey’s watching the dog joyously tear through the wrapping paper scattered about the floor, while my kids move from one new toy to the next and my husband wrestles with whatever new electronic device has graced our threshold.   

It’s at this time that I begin to become overwhelmed with how absolutely lucky I am. My family is healthy and safe, snuggled together in a warm house that buffets the cold winter wind. We have all we could possibly need and quite a few of the things we want. Right at this moment, our biggest problems involve where to put all the trash we’ve created and how to turn our garage into a spare refrigerator.
It’s about this time that thoughts of those less fortunate enter my mind and guilt settles in my stomach like Aunt Sally’s fruitcake. Like most good Bozemanites, I help when I can and make a point of donating to my favorite, local nonprofits during the holiday season. I helped Can the Griz, and I grabbed a leaf from the elementary school’s Tree of Giving. But, my efforts to help seem like nothing more than a tiny drop in a big bucket full of need once I’m surrounded by all the Christmas trimmings and trappings. The cosmic balance seems off, and it’s not the Bailey’s causing the tilt. It’s good, old fashioned Christmas guilt, and, in many ways, it’s worse than anything alcohol has ever done to me. Almost.

This year, I decided to cure my holiday hangover by reminding myself that any season can be the season of giving. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, residents of Gallatin County gave over $69 million in charitable contributions during 2012 (the most recent year figures available). This amounts to about 3.4% of our income, and is distributed among dozens and dozens of worthy causes. We’re a giving bunch, we Bozeman residents, but in light of the overindulgence of the holiday season, it’s easy to feel like we should be doing more. So, I refilled my glass of Bailey’s and sat down at the computer in search of some local fundraisers that might need my time or resources.

Be a Bear…
The Polar Plunge caught my attention immediately because nothing cures a hangover quite like a cold shower. Local law enforcement is partnering with the Special Olympics again this year to raise funds for Montana’s athletes. “Plungers” who have raised pledges (presumably from their arch enemies) leap into frigid waters in the middle of February. This year, the event has moved to a new location; it will be held at the Gallatin County Regional Park (Dinosaur Park) off of Oak St on February 16.

Polar Plunge prizes will be given to those who raise the most money and those who wear the best costumes. (I’m thinking about dressing up as a scuba diver in a wet suit.) The actual plunge begins at noon, and a party is held afterwards at the GranTree Inn. There are all kinds of incentives for raising money and taking the plunge, but I have to believe the best perk is bragging rights. Or, perhaps it’s that warm, fuzzy feeling we all get when we help to make a positive difference in our community. Interested plungers can find more information at the Special Olympics website:

…Or a Chicken
There is an alternative for those of us who are too chicken to dive into an ice bath in the middle of winter. Eagle Mount will be holding its first ever Chicken Dip on January 10 to raise money for the organization’s aquatic therapy programs. In stark contrast to the pond at Gallatin Regional Park, Eagle Mount’s pool is a balmy 89 degrees. It has ramps and lifts and can accommodate anyone and everyone. People who raise at least $100 in pledges are free to take a dip in the pool. Dip a toe, or dip your entire self.

This is the first fundraiser that Eagle Mount has held to benefit its aquatic program since the pool opened seven years ago, according to Eagle Mount’s Aquatics Director Amber Waters. They are going all out and making an event of it. The Roost will be there serving up fried chicken and costumes are encouraged. The person who raises the most money in pledges will get their very own Eagle Mount pool party. This sounds right up my alley. I can help a great organization reach its goal of providing adventures and opportunities to disabled individuals and become a hero among my friends for throwing a pool party in the dead of winter.

Anyone interested in joining the Chicken Dip should call Eagle Mount at 406-586-1781, find details online at, or email Amber Waters at The first 50 people to pre-register get an Eagle Mount pint glass. It must be a sign.

The holiday hangover haze begins to lift. I don’t need to feel guilty for my enjoying myself and all my Christmas gifts, those that are material and, more importantly, those that are not. Bozeman’s nonprofit organizations will continue to come up with creative fundraisers. I can share the bounty of my good fortune throughout the coming year in a variety of ways. The cosmic imbalance begins to stabilize and that gnawing guilt in my gut is replaced with a warm glow. I’d blame it on the Bailey’s, but I think it’s really a glow that comes from living in generous community of people dedicated to making life better for their neighbors.  

About the Author(s)

Sarah Cairoli

Sarah Cairoli is a local writer, tutor, and mother who has been enjoying all Bozeman has to offer for the past decade. She can be reached at (at) hotmail [d0t] com,)

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