Dear Grapevine December 2022
December 2022 | Remote Communities & Sober Holidays | In Every Issue

Dear Grapevine

Welcome to Montana

I live in the remote mountains of southwest Montana, 20 miles from any AA meetings. I have not been able to drive for two years since getting out of Department of Corrections mandatory treatment. I and my sober friend, Brian, started an AA meeting up here called Georgetown Lake Serenity in the Mountains. But after a couple of years, we found that because of our harsh winters we were forced to close during the winter months due to travel conditions and safety concerns.

Brian and I now take turns every week driving elsewhere to meetings during the long winters. Other days we do a two-person Big Book meeting, either on the phone or at my house. We both know what we need to do to keep the sober life that has so graciously been given to us. I look forward to May when we can start our meeting back up.

Retirement has given me the opportunity to pay it forward nowadays. I now go into the local treatment center to bring some hope in twice a month. I also go in every Christmas morning to share and bring the clients Christmas cards. It’s my greatest present every year. I’ve been blessed with a fantastic life these last few years.

We hope to see you in the Montana mountains this summer! 

Ed M.
Anaconda, Mont.

Holidays on the road

As I think about this Christmas, alone and on the road, I’m especially grateful for my AA family in every corner of the world. Between my past drinking and my somewhat unconventional career, I can’t remember the last holiday season I spent at home. I’ve been performing in some far-off place, or enroute to the next gig.

I often wake up a little lonely on the road, thinking of family and loved ones miles away. Now that I’m sober, I just go to the local sober clubhouse when I’m a little down and missing those I love. There’s usually  someone standing by the door ready to shake my hand and say, “Welcome home!”

As I walk inside the meeting, I often see a spread of festive food that would put a grandma to shame. I look around and hear all the laughs and see smiles and know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. My AA family always welcomes me like I’m their long-lost son. Soon the darkness I woke up with is replaced with AA love.

As I enjoy the fellowship—the coffee not too good—the holiday miracle happens as I look toward the door. I can see a new man walk in…shaking…scared…confused. That AA voice inside my head pulls me out of my chair, and I walk over and hear myself as I extend my hand and say, “Hello, my friend, welcome home.” I feel the emptiness leaving me as we talk. I hear his story and I feel peace.

I’m on the road again this Christmas, with AA in my heart.

Terry S.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Gratefully empty-handed

We often hear, “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” One miracle for me happened in early sobriety when I was invited to a wedding of old friends from graduate school. Like many alcoholics, I had led two lives around these friends. I’d control my drinking at their get-togethers, then make a beeline to a dive bar. I kept everything a secret. I really liked these friends, but always felt inferior. I was certainly not going to tell them I was now in AA.

There was no alcohol at their wedding, but after the reception was over, we all went back to a hotel room. Everyone began pouring champagne for a toast. I panicked. I was the only one in the room without a glass!

I quickly asked a God I didn’t believe in to help me. Before I knew it, I was on my feet, saying the first toast to the bride and groom. Everyone raised their glasses and nobody even noticed that I didn’t have one in my hand.

Just as our Big Book says, our Higher Power will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We can go anywhere sober if we have a good reason to be there.

Chicago, Ill.

Doing just fine

Finding a new sponsor can be challenging. After much consideration and prayer, I finally asked this lady with 20-plus years of sobriety who works a program I admire.

Since I regularly attend meetings and my program is adequate, I decided I only needed someone to rely on when things get difficult. Fortunately for me, my new sponsor saw things differently. She suggested I attend more meetings and call more frequently.

Well, I began to question this. Perhaps she needs extra meetings and for me to call her. But I’m doing just fine. Or am I?

Is this the same rebellious behavior I had when I was newly sober? Perhaps. Are my more glaring character defects still inside me, just waiting to come up? Absolutely. So I’ve decided to quit thinking so much and do as suggested. I remember where my best thinking got me.

Sonja P.
Sun City Center, Fla.

7:56 A.M., and all good

The clock is ticking. I can hear the sounds of cars rushing past. I’m comfortable, sitting in a warm room, with good shoes on my feet. The coffee warms my belly, and I have my pen in my hand. One finger is sore, maybe arthritis. I sit waiting, my breathing  soft and smooth. This coffee is comforting.

I look at the dark gray carpet squares on the Intergroup floor. I’m a bit disappointed that nobody showed up for the 7:30 A.M. meeting yet. But that’s OK. I’m just grateful that I’m here, sober and willing to pass on whatever has been given to me.

I’ve been sitting here with my coffee for almost 30 minutes now, listening to my stomach grumble. The sun’s shining, my family’s at home and we all love each other. My kids are visiting from Oklahoma for Christmas. I feel waves of peace and serenity. Here I sit, 73 years old, sober 34 years and looking forward to the rest of today. What could be better than this?

Dubuque, Iowa

Today’s topic: welcome back

This magazine brought me back to the rooms of AA. A friend of mine who I had referred to the program was watching me deep dive into relapse. One day, she was chairing a meeting and requested my presence. Reluctantly, I went to support her.

At the meeting, she asked me to look through the latest Grapevine magazine and pick out a topic, so I did. The story was all about spiritual recovery. It spoke volumes to me. I took that Grapevine home and I’ve kept it ever since. On my bad days, that story helps me remember that recovery is a choice. Thank you N, for helping me to get back to AA meetings. This is how the program works! We keep coming back.

Mountain View, Ark.

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