Between noon of Wednesday, December 24th 1952 and midnight of Thursday, January 1, 1953 some 120,000 members of AA will have seen their dreams of a dry holiday and their hopes of a sane New Year’s come safely true.The first Christmas for AA was the depression of 1935. There were three old timers to mark it…hardly a dozen newcomers to share it with them. In Akron, Dr. Bob and Bill D. wee going on their second six months, four recruits had from four months to two months. In New York, Bill W. had thirteen months since his last drink, seven months since his historic trip to Akron and the start of AA.
In Akron, the six gathered with their families and Dr. Bob’s. There was no ceremony, no exchange of presents. The 12 steps had not yet been formulated. The Big Book was only a vague stirring that would not even be in manuscript until three more Christmases had been achieved. But there was joy that this most dangerous of times for the alcoholic had arrived, 24 hours by 24 hours was being mastered. “There was thanks,” remembers one of the two who survives that first Akron Christmas, “that we had come this far. However, I am certain that there was still considerable fear and trembling…not fear that this new way would not work, but doubt and uncertainty that we would be able to do it.
Bill W. recalls only a quiet day in New York that Yule of 1935 where there were very few involved. Five years later, there was a place in New York for an AA Christmas party…the first AA clubhouse. And about the 24th street Club there hangs a real Santa Claus story.
Just one hundred years before, in 1840, the building was erected at Number 3341/2 West 24th street….the property of a family named Moore who were large landowners in Manhattans Chelsea section, and driving across the snow covered lawn, Dr. Clement Clarke Moore began to compose his immortal gift to children of all ages.
“Twas the night before Christmas”
-AA Grapevine, 1952-
Chop wood, carry water