“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”
~from The Promises in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous


I got a gift in the form of a chance to observe myself like Scrooge did in “A Christmas Carol” when he looked into his past and saw the truth.

An annual Christmas party I have attended several times in previous years is a lively and loud event with lots of people, lots of food, and lots and lots of booze. BYOB was the theme and the focus – a chance to toast and get toasted. In my past life I thought it was big fun.

For the last couple of years, legitimate out of town conflicts have prevented me from attending. These were also convenient as I (self-centeredly) thought my not drinking would be noticed and stand out as a baffling unimaginable choice in these circles.

When this year’s invitation rolled around, I wanted to attend to be polite, to fulfill social obligations and by so doing, perhaps make amends for some past unpleasantries that I had an indirect part in…
I set out on my mission feeling somewhat resigned to the task of going. Gone was the enthusiastic anticipation in the weeks leading up to the night. Armed with a bottle of Pellegrino and a dish for the potluck, I realized I didn’t recall exactly how to get there.

My phone’s navigation system got stuck, able to muster only one metaphoric instruction: “Turn onto Pleasant Valley.” [it really said Pleasant Valley which, though it is a street around here, was not even on the route.]

My self confidence began to wane. I wondered intermittently if I should turn back and head home but intuitively sensed I should continue. I ultimately found my way to my destination. The house was beautifully lit up and so were many of the guests as I entered.

Almost immediately a woman came up to me calling my name, surprised to see me out of the context of our previous encounters, amazed at how long it had been. I had no idea who she was even though she said her name in response to my blank stare. She pointed at her husband and vague bells began to ring in my distant, hazy, and boozy memory.

We commented upon how it seemed like a lifetime or two ago, and then I attempted to fill in the blanks. It was a challenge and I realized that those days more than a decade ago were just about when my drinking began to spiral out of control. The socializing I did with them and their friends – or with anyone at that point – for me was focused on the party, the excessive indulging, the “fun.” Even though it was cloaked in dinner parties, game nights or other funsy gatherings, for me it was about drinking lots and going off the deep end.

As they separated from me to go get drinks I wandered around for a few minutes. I did get to have a few words with the beautiful hostess who was very busy hostessing. I realize as I write this that I will call her to make any needed amends directly. When no one was looking I slipped out the front door and made a bee line to my car. I needed no navigation system to find my way home sweet home.

My intended mission for the evening was semi-accomplished, but I accomplished so much more. I reinforced that that my current lifestyle of sobriety and the peace that goes with it is who I am and where I want to be.

I really will go to any lengths to get it. Even on a brief visit to my past which I see as  the exact and perfect chain of events that has brought me to this very moment. Based on the present, I know the ghosts of Christmas future will bring good memories (that I will actually be able to remember) and they will be just right for the person I continue to become.

• Have you ever felt you had to make excused for your sobriety?
• Did you ever find out that anyone else actually cared if you drank or not? 
• Did you ever have something from your past show up that gave you an unexpected opportunity to see your great progress?


In gratitude, harmony and support,




Ghosts of Christmas Past

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