The holiday season is upon us.
For us, I just spent two hours last weekend tearing down all of the crazy Halloween decorations that my wife had put up. She loves the holidays and so do I, but seriously…she REALLY loves the holidays. She’s like some sort of holiday-maniac.
Anyway…down to the basement goes the oversized glittery witch’s shoe stuffed with purple twigs, the giant letters spelling out the word ‘BOO’, the ceramic pumpkins and plastic cauldrons filled with leftover candy from trick-or-treating. Away goes the fake crow mounted to my flag holder on the front porch and into the hedges goes me, cutting up my wrists and ankles, in an effort to collect and destroy several bags of fake cotton spiderwebs.
With everything put away into it’s appropriate bin, I cop a squat on the bottom stair of the basement, to catch my breath for a minute.
That’s when I hear, “Honey, can you start bringing up the Christmas bins?”
“Dude, we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. Are we just glossing over that?” I replied.
The reality is that we’ve reserved a few ‘autumn pieces’ for the dining room. The dried Indian corn and a few small pumpkins from the kids field trip will adorn the table over Thanksgiving, but the rest of the house? In the rest of the house, it’s already Christmas.
We tend to travel a lot during the last two months of the year and if we don’t slam these abrupt holiday transitions into place, we’ll miss celebrating all together.
I’ll admit, sitting in the living room every night after the kids go to bed, relaxing amongst her mercury glass collection surrounded with fake snow and diamonds, along with the lights on the Christmas tree…it’s feels pretty rad, just nostalgic.
The holidays are amazing. We love visiting with family, breaking out the Peanuts Thanksgiving and Christmas specials, watching football and the various parades… (CUE MUSIC)… It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
One of the most incredible parts of these holidays for us, is good food and drink.
Each of our families has their own traditions, like Oyster stuffing on Thanksgiving for me and Monkey Bread on Christmas morning for my wife.
As Paula Abdul once sang, Opposites Attract. I’m not sure that she had us in mind while writing the song, but whatever.
Aside from the food, both of our families enjoy a few frosty beers or stiff cocktails around the holiday season. It helps take the edge off so that you don’t strangle your in-laws or beat the shit out of an annoying cousin, right?
I remember as a kid, my dad and uncles would all sit around in one room, watching the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys, drinking St. Pauli Girl or Heinekens. I loved the color of the green glass and to this day, chalk it up to OCD (or learned behavior), I only prefer beer in a green bottle. I used to sneak around the coffee table and they’d let me have a taste of what was left, as I cringed and they laughed. Little did I know that I was drinking their backwash (CUE DRY HEAVING).
I don’t think they thought twice about it – why would they? We all thought it was harmless.
However, that was the 70’s and now? Now we’re in 2014, flying around in spaceships with robot butlers and android girlfriends. Or not. However, one thing I’ve noticed that HAS changed is how much younger kids are drinking and experimenting with ‘stuff’. Quite frankly, as a dad to three kids who has been there, done that and then some, this horrifies me.
At some point soon, I’m going to cross that threshold where my kids actually know what this ‘stuff’ is…and become curious. I’m going to have to make some HEAVY parenting decisions – it’s not just ‘Can I wear these pajamas again tonight?’ or ‘Can I color with markers at the good table instead of crayons?’
As a kid, I was never particularly interested in alcohol. Perhaps it was because it didn’t play a major role in our household. Sure, my parents indulged in the occasional glass of wine, beer or cocktail, but it’s not like we had a separate refrigerator in the garage stacked up with 40’s of King Cobra or a glorified wall of liquor bottles behind a 15-person bar in the basement.
I actually considered myself ‘straightedge’ up until the time I was about 17 or so. Not only did I NOT have an interest in alcohol or drugs, but I actually loathed those who did. I wonder… why?
I can’t think of any particular person or event during my adolescence that would’ve elicited such a passionate response about it.
I took sips from my uncle’s beer bottle. I thought it was bitter and disgusting. Was that enough to turn me off to alcohol until I was old enough to feel like I could make my own decisions about it? Does that actually work?
This morning, I asked my wife where she came out on the issue. I asked her if she had a similar experience to mine as a kid. “Yes and no. My mom didn’t let us sip, but my dad didn’t really think too much of it.” she said.
Even though it’s a tad premature with two toddlers and an infant, I asked her if she’d given any thought how we might handle this with our own kids down the line. The truth is, we really haven’t yet.
Truthfully, I don’t know if there’s a right or a wrong answer on this. You can argue it from both sides. An early introduction with alcohol could either go horribly right (they hate it, think it’s disgusting and never want it again) OR it could go horribly wrong (they think it tastes okay, see adults imbibing heavily, think it’s completely appropriate and become addicted).
At the very least, I think this is a CONVERSATION.
It’s a conversation that I think we owe ourselves to have, as responsible parents and I’m hoping that this article serves as a platform for us to comment and offer your perspectives.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you ever given any thought to your kids and alcohol?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece is part of my ongoing commitment with Responsibility.org, a leader in the fight against drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol. They believe that collective action brings about lasting change. The thoughts and opinions here are my own.