Dec 2, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever

I had my last alcoholic drink in August 1983. As the holidays approached that year I was still very shaky in my sobriety. I dreaded the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Eve, all of which I associated with getting drunk. Daily, I asked God to help me through the holiday season. He came up with a great plan.

The Huntsville Fellowship AA Group used to meet in a second floor room above Hale Brothers Furniture downtown. They always had a morning meeting on holidays. I attended the Thanksgiving meeting there and heard a young man talking about the same feelings I had been having. He had other problems – his parents didn’t want him home for the holidays, his girlfriend’s parents had made it clear that he wasn’t welcome at their house, and he was living at the halfway house in Huntsville. He was convinced there was no way he could stay sober over Christmas, and he was terrified of the consequences.

I went home and told Margo about what I had heard and how helpless I felt. She had an idea. Why not put up a notice at the Pathfinder (halfway house) and at several AA groups that we were planning a Christmas dinner at our house for anybody who needed a place to go on Christmas day? And, by the way, she would do the same at her Alanon (the organization for family members of alcoholics) groups! I could offer to bring people without transportation up to the house following the Christmas morning AA meeting at the Fellowship group.

The plan was hatched. We bought toys and toiletries and made up Christmas stockings for young and old. We decorated the house and prepared two turkeys and lots of trimmings. Several Alanon ladies offered to help with the food.

On Christmas morning, I attended the Fellowship meeting. The young man for whom I had originally expressed concern was not there, but a lot of others were. There was also a truck driver from Pennsylvania whose truck had broken down in Decatur the day before. His boss had been unable to send the money to fix the truck (which also contained all the gifts the man had bought for his children). He had pawned the radio out of the truck to pay for a motel room on Christmas Eve. But he hadn’t found it necessary to take a drink!

After the meeting, we all headed up to our home in Fayetteville. I think we had about a dozen men, six or eight women, and eight or ten children. When we offered a prayer of thanks, it was as meaningful as any prayer I have ever uttered. There were many tears, wonderful stories, mountains of food, some singing, and we exchanged gifts.

After the party I drove everybody but the man from Pennsylvania back to Huntsville. He spent the night with us. The next morning, I took him by the Huntsville group, where old Dan M coughed up the money to get him a bus ticket to Pennsylvania. We retrieved his children’s gifts and sent him on his way.

I don’t know if any of the people who shared that day remember it as well as I do. I remember it vividly, since it was so crucial to my early sobriety. The most amazing part was that I never thought about drinking! Isn’t God great?

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