This is the time of year when my sobriety, the mere fact that I no longer drink, materializes as an indisputable miracle.
Last weekend my daughters and I heaved our traditional Christmas decor out of the garage. Many of these old items are not making the cut this year (longer blog post about detachment coming soon). However, my santa collection is a tradition that I hold dear and will continue to adorn my hearth for years to come.
My mom started this accumulation for me after a few years of traveling the world. On my birthday in 1999 her gift to me was a box full of santas. From places I will likely never travel to; Germany, Thailand, Estonia, to name a few. Through the years, my collection has grown to include a more domestic variety of this bearded folk legend. Somehow too, the famed Elf on a Shelf has become part of my cherished assortment.
While unboxing and disposing of the protective wrap on each of these treasured items, my daughters asked why we have two elves. I hesitated with my reply. Should I be honest or tell a deceptive tale of a family tradition that doesn't exist.
"Because when I was drinking, I couldn't always remember where I had hid him the night before."
There. Honesty. It seems like a small thing to admit. Yet that is the type of "white lie" I once told. To the point where the dishonesty added up to an enormous conglomeration of bullshit I struggled to maintain.
The fact is, my kids had lived through these moments of "forgetfulness." Embroiled in the very heart of my daily remorse and deception to cover my addiction. They are living proof of the resilience our families have when we are dedicated to recovery. They survived my frantic mornings looking for that stupid elf.
Or that one time the tooth fairy neglected to show up.
These typically trivial parenting moments that I botched repeatedly, are the hardest memories for me to accept and let go of as I enter 3 years and 7 months of sobriety.
Last night by ex-husband spent some time at our house with my daughter who is recovering from surgery. While they were together on the couch, he gazed up at my abundance of Kris Kringle and asked, "Why do you have two elves?"
My child, who incidentally has no filter, responded: "Because when mom was drunk she couldn't find it."
Ouch. No sugar coating or sprinkles on that reply.
He laughed, then recoiled. I presume that he thought it wasn't appropriate to laugh. Yet with a snort, I started cracking up.
It is actually funny.
Now that those days are over.
(Real truth be told, there were once as many as four elves)
I cherish my recovery, as much as my family. While it is brutally hard to hear the reality of my past, laughter is often a necessary element of our healing.
Proof of the progress is that my children are actually encouraged to be open about our old experiences. Those past moments are part of our story; the good, bad, and ugly have defined us along the way. Proving that there is healing power in honesty.
Honesty. Hmmph. The irony in this entire tale of Santa. Chew on that for a minute.