On a bleak November day in 1934, Bill W. was in the process of receiving—albeit unknowingly—a Christmas present beyond his belief. During a visit, an old schoolmate, Ebby T., explained how he had found sobriety via religious ideas of the Oxford Group. Bill was amazed, yet unimpressed. He thought: “My gin would last longer than his preaching.” (p. 9 BB.) But it did not! Bill’s curiosity with his friend’s success eventually led Bill to the doors of the alcoholic ward of Towns Hospital a few weeks later. He was released with a full week of sobriety on December 18, just one week before Christmas. He never drank again!
But that was only a beginning! While in the hospital, he had a personality change that altered his modus operandi! He previously had never wanted anything more than to be a rich member of the Wall street crowd, as he was before drinking ruined that high point of his life. However, before leaving the hospital the thought came to him: “There were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given to me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others.” (p. 14 BB.)
Bill’s real Christmas present was a complete personality change as described by Dr. Carl Jung: “Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate the-.” (p. 27 BB.) Well, did Bill go back to Wall Street? No, he did not! He went down to Calvary mission and brought home a disheveled, and perhaps not-so-well-smelling, wino to his fancy Brooklyn Heights home and fed him and prayed with him. But the drunk got drunk, again. So, Bill went back, and the same thing happened. Did he give up and go back to Wall Street? No, he did not! He went back to that mission again and again through January, February and March of 1935 and guess what? They all got drunk!
What a personality change! What a wonderful Christmas present! Not just getting sober, but a strong desire to help others. We call this Step Twelve today, but this personality change was not only Bill’s exciting Christmas Present—it is certainly ours, as well!
By Bob S.