Saturday, November 21, 2009



My little village called Naples Florida has grown from a 1974 one-stoplight  "Four Corners" of about 7,500 people, to a widely spread-out city of about 300,000. I have lived here for almost 45 years, so as I look around, I wonder not only what has taken place here, but when the heck did it happen?  45 years ago was one small sign at the city limit which announced, "Entering Naples, Florida". Now there are huge signs over 250 miles (402 kilometers) away, spanning across 6 lanes of expressway which read NAPLES 250 MILES.  I guess these are warnings for Peeps to put the plug in the jug -grin!

The number of people addicted to certain mind-altering substances has also increased exponentially. There were 6 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week, with 3 groups in early 1974. Now there are 188 meetings each week, in 54 meeting places in our town.

So tonight we had our annual 35th Intergroup Gratitude Dinner.  Now anybody who is not addicted (or IS!) to anything--even HERSHEY bars, may not understand fully the implications of a Gratitude Dinner.  Some of us see one another only this one time each year, and it is cause for HUGE amounts of inner and outer joy, to see old friends of 25-35 years who are STILL sober.  And we talk about the "old days". And how different is today's atmosphere in and out of the rooms.There were nearly 500 people attending, we had a great dinner, (I had expected a thousand!).

SO many Peeps said things to one another, like: "Do you remember 24 years ago, and you said (whatever)?" Or "You have no idea how much your words helped me 32 years ago." Or "I came to my first meeting this morning, and you were the only person to welcome me.  You said 'Hello', and we found you and I had a lot in common. I sure hope we'll both be here, still sober, in 2010 November."  Can you feel my heart beat faster, at hearing these kinds of comments? Praise God, and the people in AA, who carry the message of AA to those who not only need to hear it...but WANT it.

Deserts were all over the place (before dinner)...and that's MY kind of dinner! Of course, I always eat less for dinner, IF  I've enjoyed some cake, fancy chocolates, sone kind of vanilla concoction

Gallons of coffee (to support my caffeine habit?) went along with the "Countdown". An AA countdown is a method of determining who has the most sober time in the room, and who has the least.  Oldest was a guy, with 56 years on continuous sobriety.

The newest member, a girl, had fewer than 12 sober hours, and so was presented with a Big Book, signed by hundreds of us.  The oldest in sober time passes on the Big Book message to the youngest member, truly symbolic. Because that IS the way this thing works, one passing the message on to another

Next we had a speaker. And 500 people sat there sober, listening to and laughing with a guy who was talking about the horrendous past he lived.  Who of us could not relate, identify with his behaviors--and it was not because I drank so much every day. It was/is my thinking which messes up my life.  Chaos ruled, and it is THAT cave into which I hid my real self from all of you, for so many years...as if you cared!

Thank you, all you sober bloggers--and others--SO much for being a part of my life, and letting me be a part of yours.  It is only together that we will ALL come through this alive.  Too many suicides this year, it IS a deadly disease with which we are dealing here.  We laugh a lot, as tonight proved--"we are NOT a glum lot.  We absolutely insist on enjoying life." BB.  But each of us know this is serious shit we're talking about.

Thank You God, for bringing us all together.

Love soberly Peeps...
And grab a chunk of PEACE on your way through this life.


garden-variety drunk said...

what a beautiful post steve and it sounds like a wonderful evening.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great way to spend an evening, Steve... celebrating renewed lives sustained by a commitment to sobriety. Cheers!

Bubbie said...

Hi Steve - Sounds like an incredible time at that meeting! I loved what you wrote about Naples. My Mother was always upset after our trips, because there was never a sign on I75 telling how many miles to Sarasota.
Always Bradenton or Naples.
Can't get over how much HOTTER Naples can be over Sarasota. Not that much further South, but I felt a real difference. Love Naples, the traffic during season - not so much.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with hearing that people are still saying thank-you for things 25 and 30 years later. That is gratitude.

It was a meaningful gift.


Dulce said...

It seems you had a wonderfull time. Am so happy for you Sweet Peep.
Great Post
BTW. When do you sleep?

Shadow said...

that sounds like a great evening...

Nessa said...

Wow, so many people. Sounds like a great event.

Silly Saturday #7 - Charm or Chores?

Angeles said...

And grab a chunk of PEACE on your way through this life.

I really liked this expression; "Gratitude Dinner" also the picture and the text.
Exciting work of God and the union of men.
Amor y paz Peeps..
(I think peeps are your friends?)

Ed G. said...

Glad you had a nice dinner and fellowship. It is an unexpected joy in my life.

Blessings and aloha.

enchantedoak said...

It just goes to show that we never know what something someone says in meeting will help another recovering drunk keep coming back. It helps me stay nonjudgmental in meetings to think that there's a wrench for every nut, and God knows exactly how that will work if we are willing.
Loved your post.

Pete Hoge said...

Doing just that sort of thing
tonite...lots of AA'ers come
out of the woodwork and hang
out in one room.

A good kind of madness


Just Playin' said...

One day at a time....you just never know! Happy for you and that you can help others~

Gabriella Moonlight said...

Steve..you amaze me...your comments, your love, I have much gratitude today too and I thank you and those ont he blogosphere for their love, their words and their grace...always!

Love you,

Just Another Sober Guy said...

Great stuff! This program and all that goes along with it! Thanks for sharing this. I missed our local gratitude breakfast this year, hope to make it next year... PEACE

Indigo said...

Wonderful heartfelt post. I think sobriety reminds us what it's like to smile and love again. We lose that ability along the way with our addictions.(Hugs)Indigo

Syd said...

I really like those holiday dinners with the fellowship. Awesome amount of gratitude filling a room.

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