There’s something magical about this time of year. The air is crisp with cold and possibility as we huddle inside with the people we care most about.
Parents who cut extra-loose, with stories about after-partying in the ’70s told louder and more insistently following every downed cocktail and emptied bottle of red wine. Your aunt with an over-flowing glass of scotch who travels a few miles past sobriety and reminisces about the pants you wore at nineteen that were so baggy they threatened to expose your nether regions. The underage cousin you sneak a few hundred too many Jack swigs to, whose bedroom floor later feels the wrath of your indiscretion. The overage cousin you do shots of the Goldschlager you hid beneath your bed during high school with—insisting that you still fucking love this stuff and swearing that the bottle wasn’t, in fact, first opened over a decade ago. Even the older, unrelated gentleman who everyone likes but no one remembers inviting, who passes while out standing up and must be carried to a couch to sleep it off.
Drinking with family is different from drinking with yourself, your spouse, your mistress, boss, pastor, or neighbor. Some in attendance at your family gathering have cleaned poop off you—and there’s just no recovering from that. They’ve seen you through the terrible twos and terribler twenty-twos; bad teenage facial piercings, and worse dating decisions. Not to mention those self-righteous political tees you understood little about but wore constantly throughout college, and the speeches—oh, god! The belligerant speeches!—that accompanied them. Even if they weren’t there, or weren’t alive to watch you awkwardly grow into the striking Enthusiast that drinks before them today, they’ve probably heard the stories. There’s no hiding your history around these people, unless they were so wasted every time you saw them that they don’t even remember how you’re related let alone your dirty details.
Family is easy, even when they’re a pain in the ass. Just remember, you’re probably a pain in their ass, too, at least while you’re all still sober. The farther away from your family you live and the less you see them, the more they want to know, and the more there is to learn about their lives of late. After telling the same sugar-glazed stories about doing well at work and your new apartment’s wonderful location, how married life is suiting you fantastically and how you really wish you could see everyone more often over and over, it grows as stale as a beer opened and forgotten on your porch overnight. But pour a couple whiskeys down your throats and you’re stripping off the sugar, telling tales you’ll only remember telling when your lids peels open the next nauseous morning with a realization of did-I-really-tell-my-parents-that? You know, stories about your real life—replete with drunjery*, drunk tank, and I-only-did-watersports-porn-that-one-time confessions at a volume level usually reserved for dubstep shows. But it’s okay. Because everyone talked. And your brother comes across as way more of a legit alcoholic than you.
So whether you’re taking bourbon shots with dad at your hometown dive bar after Hanukkah dinner, throwing back excessively sugary tropical beverages on a winter escape vacation with your family (if you’re doing that let’s just get it out in the open we are super jealous and semi-resentful), or you’re swigging too many of mom’s famous gin fizzes on Christmas morning, cheers all around—and happy Festivus from the rest of us here at the Enthusiast!
*drunjery = an injury acquired while drunk