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Grapevine : December 2011
through an arranged marriage (that’s another story!). I didn’t want to be married any longer. I was bankrupt financially, emotionally, and spiritu- ally. Those were the circumstances I awoke to every morning. Staring in the mirror at my reflection and not knowing who was staring back at me, I experienced that feeling of impending doom. I was ripe for re- covery. I had run out of fresh ideas for better living. I was given the gift of desperation. On Mother’s Day 1987 at Paki Maui in Lahaina, I went to my first meeting. That was the beginning. Eighteen months of sobriety, and then I relapsed at Christmas! By liv- ing in a sober house, I started all over again. I now have almost 19 years of continuous sobriety. Today I do Christmas differ- ently. Because Dec. 26 is my sober date, Christmas to me means victory over that old life. I no longer have to drink, suffer and be miserable. I’m sober and free. No more drunk Christmases from hell. In my early recovery, especially the first five to seven years, the holi- days were a very slippery time for me. I hung out at the alkathons, a safe place for me to be. I made it through many Christmases by staying in the safety zone of those alkathons. I re- member one year, around two years sober, I volunteered to chair a meet- ing at the Christmas alkathon. When I began the meeting, I started to cry and couldn’t stop. I moaned, I wailed, I just fell apart. What I fell apart about I don’t remember. Two friends came over, took the book out of my hands and began the meeting. The love of those two touched my heart, and I will always remember their kindness. We got sober together. The meeting went on and I just fell apart. Whatever the major crisis of the moment was passed and I stayed sober. My Higher Power does for me what I can’t do for myself, but those in the Fellowship have closed the gap for me when I couldn’t see my way through. Their love carried me when I needed love the most. Today I still love the alkathons. Christmas is still a celebration of victory, gratitude, grace and a new life. When I go to the alkathons now I see many a newcomer in the same position I was in: scared, wanting to stay sober, but not knowing what the hell is going on. I have found several sponsees at the alkathons. Actually, I didn’t find them, they found me—Twelfth Stepping me, keeping me sober. I can never repay the debt I owe to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Fellowship. I hope I never forget what it was like in the beginning. I am so grateful for my sobriety. I am looking forward to another sober Christmas. Mele Kalikemaka. Vernon G. Kihei, Hawaii aagrapevine.org 15 GRAPE_12-15.indd 15 10/28/11 2:23 PM