It’s getting to be that time of year: the holidays. Most friends my age started complaining weeks ago about the dreaded time back home when they are forced to spend time with their families. The old trope of a ruined Thanksgiving due to political divides between children and parents or the racially insensitive undertones of Aunt Sheila were resurrected for many with a Trump victory.
Many of them try to keep their personal lives separate from their family, avoiding conversation topics like politics, dating, or definitely drinking stories.
This is where my family diverge from the norm. Not only do I share at least one alcoholic beverage a week with my Irish Catholic mother, but she’s taught me some of the best ways to enjoy alcohol around the holidays.
- Pace Yourself
Many kiddos out there may try to drink heavily on the holidays from the getgo. These younglings are amateurs and won’t be functional by mid-afternoon. If you get too drunk too early, you’ll miss all the crazy shit your relatives do—like why exactly does cousin Andrew eat Kleenex as a snack?
My mother taught me: every holiday should start light with some light alcoholic beverage. A mimosa before opening Christmas presents or a Blood Mary before cooking the turkey will be critical. You should always plan to be slightly tipsy right before a mid-afternoon dinner. Hard alcohol should start right after dinner, but before dessert. Basically open the whiskey while your brother is passed out on the couch with his pants unbuttoned. Unlike your peers who only get a few hours of inebriation during the day, you will be slightly buzzed from 9am to 9pm. That’s how my mom taught me to do it in the big leagues.
Many folks ask: if a tree falls in the woods but nobody hears it, did it make a sound? I would counter: if you are so drunk at 9pm to fall asleep in the remnants of your pecan pie, but nobody else is awake because they couldn’t keep up, does it matter? A question for the philosophers.
2. You Look Classier if You Drink Out of Nicer Glasses
At my house, alcohol choices are a judgment free zone. My brother still drinks Mike’s Hard Lemonade and we haven’t castrated him yet. However, not all of our extended family feels the same way. My mom taught me early on that nobody can look down on your decision to drink two bottles of Barefoot Moscato on Thanksgiving if you’re drinking it out of the classy China our deceased grandmother left us. This isn’t a college house party. Step it up. The classy glasses deceive onlookers into thinking the insides are classy too. The fewer eye rolls you receive from judgmental relatives the more drinks you’ll consume.
3. Trashy TV is Better with Booze
We all love a good holiday classic, such as It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve or a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, but alas there is so much time during the holiday that is consumed by horrific television options.
One year I felt very dejected. Our family had scrolled through the entire menu and found nothing of quality. My mom was in control and opted for one of those TLC reality shows, something to do with trashtastic brides-to-be. As I complained, she held up her seventh glass of Chardonnay and pointed at me: “Listen, Matt: You’d enjoy this a lot more if you just drank more.”
These are words I still live by: if a party isn’t fun, maybe it’s because you’re too sober to make it fun.
4. Naps are Critical
When I was younger, I assumed my mom took naps on holidays because she was busy cooking in that kitchen. With time, I’ve learned that was a mere facade. Naps are breaks to keep pace with the consistent level of drinking. If you aren’t the last one drinking on a holiday, you lost. Or at least those are the Irish rules.
My mom taught me that a nap immediately following dinner can be critical for a second wind, plus it can give others the impression that you are asleep because of the turkey and gravy. If you don’t wake up with a hangover later that afternoon, take a shot. You’ve earned it.
5. Jesus Loved Wine
As Irish Catholics, we are taught that anything that brings pleasure must be connected to sinful and awful things. My mom made sure that this connection did not apply to alcohol. After all, Jesus’ first documented miracle was to turn water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Even Jesus concedes that a family affair would be a bust without the sweet elixir of wine. I mean God made grapes after all.
So have no shame, no guilt, no fear: raise a glass and thank the Lord this Thanksgiving that alcohol is a thing.
I know I am still a padawan and my mother will always be the Yoda master of holiday drinking. So I cannot wait for these holidays to learn even more of her ways. May the booze be with you.