Seek the message, not the mess

It’s Christmas morning at the Cottage of Solitude. This is the first Christmas in my life that I woke up to a completely empty house. No significant other, no family, and for the first time since she was born, no Sam. She is safe and sound and happy with her mom and I’m guessing still sleeping as I write this. The excitement of trying to find perfect gifts for other people didn’t happen this year. Dad is in sunny Florida and Mom and little sister are in Colorado. My go-to friends are scattered from Florida to the Carolinas to Ohio to California. I have been dreading this morning, to be sure. Being the defacto Santa for years, I knew the tree wouldn’t be surrounded with presents. See any reasons for me to drink??? Happily, me neither. And after that heart breaking start to my morning, I saw that I was completely wrong about the tree being bereft of gifts. It’s absolutely full! Any chance you would sit with me for a bit while I open them? I have eggnog. And cookies. So many cookies…

Any self respecting present unwrapper would go for the biggest one first so I’m doing the same! I used to prank the kids by putting something small in a big box so I hope it hasn’t happened to me… (sound of wrapping paper being shredded…) (boy…that is a lot of tape…) (who uses this much tape!!!) (oh come on!!! Even pretend presents have to mess with me??? It’s like Ft. Knox only with tape!!!) OK, it’s open. And it’s a piece of paper. Too small to be a check with a huge sum written on it. It’s a hand written note. 

“You don’t have to drink today.” 

Wow. That is EXACTLY the right size box because this gift is huge! I don’t have to drink today. Of any of the above sad conditions I woke up to, which would be made better by adding booze? Not a single one. You normals might struggle with this but any single one of those sad thoughts would have been more than enough to justify adding rum to this eggnog. Nice to be beyond that! Thank you, Mystery Gift Giver!!! Maybe ease up on the tape? Save a tape tree? 

Ooohhh! The next one has Superman wrapping paper!!! Appears to be minimal tape. Open time! (I’m being a bit more careful with the unwrapping business this time as I am the one that has to take care of the scraps of paper so…) It’s an email.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way. :)”

That is a response to an amends and a thank you to one of my best friends that I’ve known since I was just a wee shaver. (for the record, I’ve been shaving since I was about 5 so…) Unfortunately this person saw me during my last few days of drinking. It was ugly. I was ugly. Embarrassing. Humiliating. This present is an excellent reminder of how bad things were but how good things can be. This present makes my prescription glasses fill up with water or something so I’m going to just hang it on my tree (yes, it’s a magic Christmas tree so I can hang emails on it) It’s what I’ve always wanted (and now realize what I’ve always had) so thank you!

This one is shaped like a DVD or something. It’s wrapped perfectly. It’s almost too pretty to open. Not anymore!!! Boom! (all scraps are properly placed in the bag for recycling so please don’t worry about a mess forming)

It’s a necklace. Umm… anyone that knows me very well at all knows my thoughts on necklaces. (Never trust a man that owns more than zero necklaces. My thoughts.) It’s a pendant of St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes. The reason it was in a round package is because the pendant is from one of my all-time favorite movies, “Man on Fire”. It may not be a necklace much longer. (like right now, it’s a good luck charm, the necklace part is no longer with us) Some people have such impressive memories. This little charm will travel with me for the rest of my days. After that, someone else can take care of it. I can feel the power in this little piece of metal and it needs to be shared. Someday.

This one is wrapped a little wonky and it’s a bit squishy…

Socks. Who’s the asshole that got me hypothetical socks??? Right in the middle of all the serious gifts! Real funny…socks…pfft…

These three little boxes are all tied together. Beautifully wrapped. Blue, green and red foil paper with matching bows. The Christmas lights are reflecting off each one. Absolutely breathtaking. Not anymore!!!! This wrapping paper just disappears when I tear it off. Hmm…

Gratitude, humility and serenity. Wow. No wonder these three boxes were tied together. These are gifts I was promised if I worked the program. It seems like if I don’t pay close attention to one of them, the remaining two start to fade. (So some wise ass gave me gifts that require work???) The best things in life require effort. That effort can be your time. Maybe your appreciation. Someone out there is pulling for you to succeed. Reward them by putting in the time and succeeding. It’s fun to make people happy. 

This last one is wrapped in plain brown paper. Looks kind of like the mailman was a bit pissed about having to deliver this one. Hope it wasn’t fragile. I’m going to open this one carefully. Might even save the paper. 

Shit. It was fragile. The damage wasn’t done by the mailman, it was done by me. The gift is the love of my friends and family and it’s beat up a bit. It’s not totally shattered but it’s definitely damaged. I don’t think they make the kind of tape I need to put all of this back together the way it was before I forgot what a precious gift it truly is. The reason the wrapping paper is so worn is because I open this gift numerous times every day. Yes I peeked and will continue to do so! The good news is I’m working with a new kind of tape now. The “scotch” tape is gone for good. The label on this new stuff says “sobriety” and this stuff holds things together like nothing I’ve ever tried before. A Christmas miracle that started back in February and happens every day.

Well I think that about does it for gift opening. Amazing treasures under this little tree! What could’ve turned into a real disaster of a day has turned into a miracle. I can be sad for a bit and that is OK now. It passes and does so much easier than the past when I added copious amounts of “medicine”. The Old Timers told me in order to keep my gift of sobriety, that I had to give it away. At first, that sounded ridiculous. Everything around me was a giant mess because of what I had done. I was going to keep that for myself and never let go! Now I get the message and hope to be able to give it just as well! It has been an amazing ten months and there is no way I can ever repay you all for the love and support. I’ll keep working hard and we can see where this adventure takes us.

Merry Christmas!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Nikki says:

    Merry Christmas Derek! I thought of you this morning.. What a humbling, beautiful post. You’re one hell of a guy. Love you so much! 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Derek Chowen says:

      Merry Christmas to you too, Nikki! Love you a bunch!

      Like

  2. Jamey Authier says:

    Merry Christmas Derek! Glad your Christmas was rewarding…may your new year be as blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Derek Chowen says:

      Merry Christmas to you, Jamey! Looking forward to a fantastic 2017! Hoping the same for you and yours, sir!

      Like

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