From the December 2012 magazine.

December 2012: Pickin' and Grinnin' for Santa

Members in Virginia celebrate the holidays with songs and music from the heart

I lean against the 100-year-old brick building in downtown Roanoke, Va., at 530 Luck Avenue, several days before Thanksgiving, sipping steaming coffee and warming my hands around a ceramic travel cup marked “Dad.” As small clusters of us alcoholics wait for the 8:00 p.m. AA meeting to begin, the sidewalks are filled with bundled-up folk hurrying into a performing arts center across the street. We are readily identifiable as alcoholics, huddled together outside, waiting for our meeting, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The familiar blue-and-white AA placard is hanging prominently on the front door. As they rush in to their jazz performance casting glances our way, the door beside me opens, allowing laughter and palpable camaraderie to pour out onto the street, welcoming me inside. The music of the heart of AA!

Three weeks later, 40 people gathered in our house to celebrate Christmas. My sponsor, his wife, and their three-year-old grandson were the first to arrive, followed by my first sponsee, a young man of 22 and his new wife, whom I met for the first time. This was our ninth annual Santa Pickin’ Party, where we shared a potluck dinner, helped Santa distribute gifts, and played bluegrass deep into the night. We played for hours, and although I was familiar with about three-quarters of the songs, there were five or six I had never heard.

-- Ed L.

Wrightwood, California

This is a preview. To view the full article, use the link below to begin a free 7-day trial!