Christmas. There was a time in my life when the very word conjured up a dark dread in me so deep that I would just walk around in a blue funk for days on end.
Christmas does NOT bring back fond memories of a golden childhood. I could guarantee you how Christmas Day would go, weeks in advance of the event, from age 5 on. Christmas in my childhood was Groundhog Day. The same thing, over and over.
By 5:00 p.m. on Christmas, the day would be ruined, a victim of alcohol, resentments and rage. Somebody, for sure, would not be talking to somebody else. Somebody would've stormed off in an angry huff. Somebody would nurse hurt feelings with more booze. Somebody would be caught in the middle of all this. That somebody would always be me.
But, year after year, I played the part of the good little soldier. I kept my eyes and ears open, and my mouth shut. I knew it was pointless to argue, to beg, to cajole or to plead with them to at least "try" to not get so drunk as last year. They were people on a mission, and that mission was to get trashed. And if my Christmas got trashed in the process, well tough shit.
I never went without. My "wish-list" was always fulfilled. I probably should've asked for more. It never occured to me that they knew what was going to happen, weeks in advance, too, and that they were guilt-ridden enough over it to be blackmailable. If I'd only known then what I know now!
That's all gone now. Now my Christmases are about showing up for others, sober. They're about giving, not getting. I turn down invitations to Christmas dinners now. People, amazingly, want me around. It wasn't always so. Especially when, after years of denying that I would ever emulate those people from years ago, I turned out to be exactly like them.
I am still in awe of the fact that this will be my 9th sober Christmas. Sometimes I feel like the little drummer boy, banging out a notice that a great event has occured. The gift of sobriety is nothing short of a miracle.
So cue David Bowie and Bing Crosby! I wanna hear their famous duet once again!
[Edited in 2007 to embed the video of David & Bing in action]