Five years ago, holiday cheer meant a splash of scotch in the morning coffee, followed by a shot of cheap whiskey to be chased with aforementioned drink. This may be followed with an Irish cream espresso, a heavy craft beer for lunch, vodka at some point (because, why not?) and then wine with dinner because it’s classy.
My first Christmas following my last rehab and psychiatric hospital admission was four years ago, a moment brought back to memory via Facebook and the rare attention I pay to it lately, with a timeline flashback picture of my friend during out junky-coffee days. These were our first holidays sober, a thought that at the time seemed impossible and today feels a lifetime ago.
In the photograph, my dear friend, life-coach, confidant and (eventual) editor stands in our tiny kitchen in a dingy two bedroom apartment in Fargo, North Dakota. Our patio view was a sprawling retirement home. The carpet was badly damaged, potentially unsanitary in places, thanks to the previous years spent spilling drinks and engaging in frequent “party foul” behavior. Trapped in an ice cave in a small town in the middle of nowhere.
As the holiday season creeps up, so does the urge to forget… to revisit that life of lonely day-drinking and promiscuous hazy nights. A warm glass of hell seems somewhat inviting, somehow…
With that Facebook photo, that simple daily reminder this morning, writing now from a view in a fantastic spread in Minnetonka, Minnesota, watching snow flutter about the trees, completely humbled and grateful for those coffee steins and that mangy apartment. Thankful for a new life free from booze, free from an addicted curse that nearly destroyed everything, free to look back and know that I never have to return to that place.
However time in recovery is measured, collected and counted, the sum always works out to one day at a time.