2 years ago things would have been different. The picture may have looked the same, but it wouldn't have been REAL. My smile would have been forced, and the 'presence' would have been only partially mine. Alcohol would have been in control, not me. Alcohol would have dictated pretty much the whole evening, and my soul would have just grabbed onto a few fleeting moments of the evening. The whole event would have been for 'them' and not for 'me'.
Last night was different. The peace that I felt was real, the emotions I felt were real, and they were ALL MINE to keep! Alcohol did not own me last night, alcohol did not control my anxiety levels, my focus or my ability to listen and be a part of my family. I was there, Jeff was there, Dad was there, GrahamDaddy was there, 100%!! 2 years ago, alcohol would have decided what scraps of memories to give me, and alcohol would have awakened me not with the feelings I feel today, but with an elevated level of anxiety, tell me "wake up. it's Christmas time, we need a drink to celebrate!"
No. Today I sit here with not only a cup of coffee held by steady hands, but with something I had long ago lost. I'm not sure what the words are to describe what it is I have this morning, but it's awesome. It's filled with a grateful calm, and a satisfaction that I gave my family what they deserved last night. last night was forever. Those grandbabies, my kids and my wife will have those memories always, and no one can take them away. Had alcohol been a part of me last night, I would not have had whatever it is that I am holding in my soul right now. Whatever the 'good' is that alcohol would have given me in my warped set of priorities would have been gone this morning, but the 'crap' that alcohol ALWAYS brought along with it, would sit with me now and for a long long time. The pain I would be feeling now, would have massively outweighed any relief that I would have fleetingly felt last night. And sadly for me, the only way I knew how to relieve that pain was with more.....well, I'll let you guess how that one ends!
Santa brought material gifts in his bag for everyone last night that will be long forgotten. However, the gifts that exist in their memories and hearts will last forever. And best of all, Santa got one of his own gifts to keep for himself!!! Last night, I 'Gave Myself Tomorrow', and let me tell you, unwrapping THAT gift today is pretty damn cool!!!