i’ll knit you a sweater

When i sent out the message about advent, first of december. and how it’s my birthday on the 2nd (enough hints?). i suggested that you send me an email with a christmas/holiday present story and that i’d send out a copy of my book to the 18th email. so far i’ve received over 50 messages and they’re still coming in.

the email #18 winner is R: “Best Christmas gift would have been a black saddle I was given when I was 15, as I had been borrowing saddles at the time to go riding.”

and there are some messages that are making my teary.

the whole ‘message of christmas’ thing, particularly as it is wrapped up in low-income families, are really touching. from M: “We were really poor when I was growing up, so ‘real’ store bought presents were a big deal. So I have a very clear memory of the first doll I got when I was six – it was a Stretch Armstrong Doll. Although I knew it was meant for a boy, and that I was a girl, it didn’t bother me, and I *LOVED* that doll until there was no more to love. It basically went everywhere with me. Years later, swapping childhood stories with my sister, I learned that my mom had been given charity gifts from a food bank so that us kids would have something to unwrap on Christmas Day, and that’s why I had wound up with a bit of an odd gift. My sister told me how happy my mom was seeing me happy, and I am reminded on thinking about it now, that even though we’re given things in a shape we may not have asked for, they can still bring unexpected happiness. Thanks for letting me take this trip down memory lane – a great way to start December. And happy birthday to you – I hope you get an unexpected gift :)”

Perhaps because my own childhood has a Barbie camper made out of cardboard in it, I can see the desperate mother, the happy child, the secrets and the despair AND the kid not caring at all, just happy for the gift. like this one from SoberSeasideSally (day 258): “When I was small we had little money and my dad was away in the Navy. My mother — with little option — “borrowed” one of my dolls and some of our old sweaters. She unravelled the sweaters and knitted me a wardrobe to gift me my “new” doll. She said I didn’t notice and was so over the moon with my new present! I don’t remember much but a nice memory of my mother’s I am thinking about a lot this season.”

There are stories of dolls who grew hair, of ‘bride’ dolls (several of those), of albums and cds and other musical gifts including guitars. There are bicycles, horses, charm bracelets and doll houses (seems like everyone got one with carpet the same as your actual house and wallpaper the same …). if my mom had made me a dollhouse out of cardboard, like my Barbie camper, then i don’t remember. funny, too, how the apartment we were in had no carpet and no wallpaper. have i ever lived in a house with wallpaper? is that a socio-economic thing? or a regional thing?

then my dad phoned me to wish me happy birthday, and he told me the same story he tells me every year, of where he was the day i was born (he was 18 years old), and how he found out, as it was a time when husbands weren’t allowed on the maternity floor, and so he was only called after it was over. this year on the phone he had some new anecdotes, having recently run into one of his managers at the time, who also remembered the story, and my dad could say to the guy, ‘well that baby is 52 years old tomorrow.’

Not all of Christmas memories are good ones, for me or for you. one thing we can do, though, is not drink. To add alcohol to a busy, emotionally-charged event, is literally putting gas on the fire. We can do this without booze. Doesn’t suit us. Not worth it. Too expensive. Wastes time.

Takes us away from the people around us.

i want to challenge you to open every email i send for the entire month of december. just open the emails. click a link in each one. nothing more. you don’t have to reply. you don’t even have to read them. just be here. be present. be consistent.

and in return, i’m going to put some kind of treat or gift in each email, i mean aside from the utterly FANTASTIC sober advice (!).

i will also put a picture of some original sober art in each email, the entire month. you will look at them and see what they say to you. that’s it.

Exit the booze elevator, painting #094, sent out to SoberinVA (in Virginia)


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012