With Christmas just around the corner, so many memories come to mind. Just another reason to party and drink, it’s what brought family and friends together. As I’m approaching my 5th sober Christmas, it’s become easier over the years, yet it still weighs on my mind. Three years and nine months I lived with the obsession to drink and I’m more than grateful that obsession has been lifted, taken away… I no longer crave the alcohol like I used to.

These past few weeks I’ve gathered with friends here and there, spreading Christmas cheer. Some of my friends drink, some don’t, either way I don’t miss the deadly hangovers that used to plague me. For many years, I lived very far away from family and was hard pressed to find friends that could keep up with my drinking. Although there was a good friend I had up in Yellowknife and we partied all day on the 24th ’til Christmas morning, singing along to a James brown tape – “I Feel Good,” ’til the sun came up, and in the dead of winter that far north the sun doesn’t rise until at least 10:30 AM!

When one party ended I’d start up another over the telephone, going down the list in my address book, calling friends and family from Alberta to B.C. to New Zealand! Those hours of conversation over the phone soon added up to one expensive bill, yet I never really cared, as long as it kept the loneliness at bay.

Growing up, there was a constant flow of friends and family coming and going. It always started on December 12th — my dad’s birthday. My mom would feed the masses and Dad always had the fridge and bar stocked. The house warmly decorated and the stockings hung with care, Elvis Christmas music filled the air. Mom and Dad’s bed would be piled high with coats and the porch full of shoes and boots. The party never stopped ’til a few days after my moms birthday, which was January 12th.

Laughter always filled the house. It was entertaining and fun, dancing to old records, opening presents, playing darts, telling jokes, catching up on yearly events — it was a time of gathering, comradery and celebration. I grew up, Mom and Dad sold the house, and Christmas never seemed the same. The only thing that never changed was the copious amounts of alcohol — it was synonymous with the Christmas season.

I spent years trying to recreate that atmosphere, yet it was never quite the same. Over the years I became more and more lonely, Christmas became just another day and an expense I couldn’t afford. During the last years of my drinking it became more and more depressing, ’til I eventually gave up. The Grinch definitely had a hold of me for a few years, but with some time, sobering up, doing lots of proverbial house cleaning, clearing out the wreckage of my past, making room for new and wonderful things, I’ve finally managed to get the Christmas spirit back.

This year more than ever, I’m thinking of so many blessings I’m grateful for. The old friendships I still have and the new friendships I’m building on, my past favorite memories, and the ones I’m making, my sobriety, my health and my connection to God. With the tree decorated and presents under the boughs, the only thing left to do is relax, reflect and give thanks. I’m very grateful I now have this blog to connect with all of you… perhaps this Christmas you can pass on my stories to someone struggling and searching for hope.

Christmas can be a very difficult time for some. This may be someone’s last Christmas or their first? Either way, the best gifts that can be given is time spent together, building memories, for memories are the gifts that last a lifetime. They don’t decay or break down over time, but become stronger and more precious as the years pass by. Sharing a laugh, embracing in a hug, holding hands, talking in conversation — the kind of stuff that can’t be wrapped in paper and a bow.

Whatever your Christmas may look like this year, may you find happiness and good cheer, let the fucks go and the peace flow.

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