Lovely December: sobriety, family, Christmas

My greatest gifts.

My greatest gifts.

To me, December is profound. On the tenth of this month back in 1996, we found out my father was riddled with cancer; he was gone ten weeks later. Last year, on the 9th, our mom died. But in December 1991, before either of my parents passed away, I stopped drinking…and goodness came after, even in grief.

Not the least of my blessings was the husband, who understood me early on and asked me to marry him anyway. What followed were three daughters, who greatly reduced my egocentric tendencies because their needs came, and continue to come, before mine. Motherhood has been freeing; pleasure results in selfless acts. I dare you to prove otherwise.

It’s hardly coincidence then that Christmas falls at this personally emotional time. Whether you celebrate the day because of the birth of Christ, or bask in the season’s demonstrations of joy, they are essentially the same. If there is one thing I learned through twelve years of Catholic education it is this: God is love.

For the last several years, Santa Claus has evolved between the girls. There’s been no formal discussion of his tenuous existence and this year, the first ever, we failed to set out cookies and milk after returning from church and heading to bed. I still talk foolishly of the presents he chose – blaming him for wrong sizes and late deliveries – as a way to soften the commercialism that arrives under our tree each year. At the end of the morning, none of it matters. Gifts are given, music is playing, the family is together. If Santa is magic and magic is something we can’t explain, then I’m fine with keeping him around because I can’t fully explain December. Though I loved the season as a child, there were painful years before 1991.  Since then, it’s been lovely and I am deeply grateful.

From Daily Cup of Jo…Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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  1. Kathy says

    Jo: One of my greatest gifts in sobriety is you! And for the first time in all these years, I did not acknowledge your birthday…also my father’s birthday. Know that I love you. Happy new year!

  2. Holly Daniels says

    Selfless acts do bring joy — we are all connected. Beautiful post! 🙂 Merry Christmas Joann to you and your family!!

  3. Cathy dore says

    The more I read your blog the more I like you. What an eloquent way of summing it all up – quite literally a blessing!

  4. Janet Fontaine says


    As you know, I adore your “Daily Cups” but this one has to be at the top of the list – (of so many favorites.) Santa was handled in the same fashion in my home – the sleigh is still out by the fireplace with the “Polar Express” bell and soft ornament that boldly states “Believe.”

    With gratitude for your bright light, warm heart, true spirit, inspiration, talent, and abundant wisdom.

    Blessings of peace, hope, joy, grace, abundance, laughter and love,


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