On The Session
A Holly Jolly Happy Hour
Published: Thursday, December 9, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
From the age of 14 to 18, I spent my summers working at an ice cream shop. When a husband and wife bought the place from the original owners in my fifth summer there, they exhausted an exorbitant amount of energy trying to appear cool to us ice cream scoopers. They encouraged us to eat all the free ice cream we wanted. They wore cargo shorts. They explained how they played beer pong with their daughters and their daughters' friends, and how the wife was a "natural" at the game.
I couldn't tell whether they made worse bosses or worse parents.
Some parents raise their children on alcohol as naturally as they do with driving them to recreational soccer and feeding them Dunkaroos. Parents allow their ten-year-olds to swig a few beers on New Year's Eve, their thirteen-year-olds to slurp a couple of Baileys on the rocks at the family Christmas party, their sixteen-year-olds to have a few friends over, and say "Hey Sergei, if I could just have your friends keys for the night, I'll give you that 30 of Bud Light and you can have at it." In Europe, many children enjoy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with their meals, even from the Little Tikes table.
Growing up, I neither lived in Europe nor did my parents let me "have at it." Because of that, people who tell me stories of drinking with their parents make me uncomfortable. "PB&J Otter was a rerun so my dad and I played Edward Fortyhands with each other." "My mom and I went to a wine tasting. She had like eight glasses and started flirting with the sommelier. I was like, ‘Mom, daddy would say this is a big no no.' But that's why she's my girl, you know?"
"For every gift we opened, grandmama and I took a shot of Goldshlagger."To some people, these stories illustrate family unity and spirit. In my opinion, whenever I hear of family members getting drunk together, I feel like I'm witnessing a ferret die in front of me.
But I realize some families weave booze into the fabric of their family structure. Others drink at family parties as the only means to endure their families. As winter break approaches, most of us will soon find ourselves in the arena of holiday parties, of goblets of eggnog and drunken aunts confessing the vilest of secrets about your father and drunken uncles kibitzing about your grandparent's financial woes.
So I offer a few biased do's and don't of holiday binging with your family.
Drink whiskey with an elder family member. Of all liquors, whiskey facilitates conversation the most. Sipping a quality whiskey straight with a perceptive grandparent or wise aunt may lead to profound revelations about the family. Not gossip revelations. Mai Tais and rum and cokes will lead to stories about how your uncle had an affair with a taxi driver. But whiskey will spawn the heroic tales of your ancestors.
Attempt to go shot for shot with your cousin's tabby cat. Not only will you become inebriated, you will earn the scorn of your entire family. You might also unintentionally kill your cousin's cat. If you think about it, he probably can't weigh more than 20 pounds. So if you try to drink more than three shots with the tabby, he probably won't continue. Tempting as it sounds, it's inevitably one of those things that sounds like a great idea at the time, but ends with a dead cat.