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While decorations and advertisements for the holiday season generate excitement earlier each year, the anticipation of good times sometimes doesn't match reality.
Last year, Mary met her 22-year-old daughter Jessie at the home of a friend. The house was beautiful. A large pile of wrapped presents surrounded the tree.
Mary and Jessie are like many mothers and daughters whose relationship has been strained by drinking. Jessie's drinking seriously affected her own life, but it also made a huge impact on her family. Jessie's drinking is what brought her mother to Al-Anon Family Groups.
Jessie confided in the middle of a very intense, mother-daughter hug.
"You're the only one in the family who'll still speak to me, mom."
When they took their first awkward step away from each other, Jessie showed her mother the total of her belongings. She sorted through a backpack of clothes to find a small photo album that she wanted to share with her mom.
Jessie didn't look healthy, but through Mary's tears she still glistened like the precious daughter she always was and would continue to be. Mary temporarily put aside her fears for her homeless little girl. She drew comfort from the warm surroundings where her daughter might be able to stay through the holidays - if she behaved herself, if she didn't make a big scene, if she didn't start breaking these nice people's things.
Mary's hopes and dreams for her daughter allowed her to cherish the little bit of time they could spend together. She told Jessie how much she loved her and she showed her love with a kiss and another hug before saying goodnight.
Mary came to understand in Al-Anon Family Groups that Jessie was the only person who could make any major decisions about Jessie's life. Because of Al-Anon, Mary was able to give her daughter the dignity of making her own decisions about life and all of the possibilities that sobriety can bring.
Anonymity is an important principle of the Al-Anon program. Although Mary and Jessie are not real names of the people involved, their story is true.
To find an Al-Anon meeting in Campbellsville, call Frances S. at 465-6900, Theresa R. at 465-2906 or Cheryl Y. at 403-3103 or (888) 4AL-ANON to find other families and friends of alcoholics who experienced similar situations with people they love.
Al-Anon members helped Mary find the compassion, concern and support that her own family couldn't provide. More than 16,000 Al-Anon Family Groups meet every week throughout the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.al-anonfamilygroups.com.
Local Al-Anon meetings are Mondays at noon and Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at Campbellsville and Fridays at 8 p.m. at The Haven on Main Street.