Why Thanksgiving and Booze Mix
I remember my old high school football coach who always stocked up on whiskey before each year’s homecoming game. The joke was that he would need something to drink whatever the outcome was. Either he would be celebrating a victory or drowning the sorrows of a loss. We always won because the school stacked the football schedule so that every homecoming game was played against the worst team in our part of the state, but there was a ring of truth in what my coach said. People tend to drink for a reason, and those reasons tend to revolve around the way we feel-- good or bad.
Thanksgiving is one of those reasons, and it too can be good, bad, or even a mix of both depending on whatever grab-bag of factors has shaped your family dynamic. Some of us had happy childhoods, and relatives that we love or at least like enough to enjoy getting together with for a day. Other people have enough for a set of encyclopedias about family dysfunction, but things aren’t so bad that they cut all ties. They may show up more from a sense of obligation than love, but they still show up. Either way, we drink to enjoy their company, or we drink to make their company tolerable.
The good thing is that most people tend to exaggerate their family divisions. Sure, we like to complain about our younger cousins or siblings who are in the throes of naïve collegiate political activism or the parent or family elder who is too set in their ways to accept that things have changed and are never going back to the way they were. Sometimes we turn a few rough years as a teenager into a grudge that hangs around in our twenties. By rough years, I mean regular things that parental stress and teen angst caused to get blown out of proportion, and not instances of abuse, abandonment, or the like. Sometimes sharing a drink with others as the people we have become can reconcile the past of who we were.
But maybe your family really is more Married with Children than Modern Family. There are squabbles and disagreements, and then there are the people who show up for Thanksgiving dinner because they want to support a sibling who is about to come out to their deeply religious conservative parents or enlist in the military against their parent's wishes. There are also those sad times when the truth needs to be put out in the open, no matter how painful it is to do so. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a time for family conflict, but it is unavoidable for some. Be thankful for those family members that keep you from facing it alone.
One Last Thought
One issue that has been causing pain for millions of Americans is the opioid addiction epidemic, not that that is the only thing a person can be addicted to. Many, many people have died, and a large number of others have done horrible things to themselves and the people they love in fueling their addiction. Some of you may very well have a family member either suffering from this right now or even taking their first steps on the long road to recovery. If this is the case, lay off the booze. For their sake. Kicking addiction isn’t an easy thing to do, and sometimes keeping temptation out of reach, or even reminding them that a good time can be had without drugs or alcohol can make all the difference between recovery or relapse. You can still enjoy a nice drink or three when you get home.