Drunk for the Holidays

Flegel, visipix.com

Is it me or has “Drunk for the Holidays” trumped “Home for the Holidays?”  Maybe it’s always been that way.  Maybe I’ve been so distracted by the lights that I never noticed.

It’s not that I’m above alcohol.  I like my chardonnay at dinner; and my cider spiked at Thanksgiving; and a glass of Baileys by the tree; but there’s a difference between enjoying a seasonal beverage and getting bombed.

Even back in my party days, holidays were a time of familial devotion for me. I spent time with little ones or reconnected with the little one in me.  I visited elder relatives and sent cards. I shopped and cooked and made merry with rituals and connections.

During those college days, I remember visiting a friend over the Thanksgiving break, and was surprised to find that all her people got trashed. No doubt this was a tradition linked to homecoming and football; but what’s that connection all about?

I’m no sports fan, but in my assessment the diehards are so drunk that they miss the game, not to mention waste time and money in ridiculously long lines for $8 Budweisers, followed by bathroom lines twice as long.

But I digress.

It was my own alcoholic mother who taught me how to celebrate New Years without drunkeness. On this one night of the year, she asked me not to go out (she was afraid of the drunk drivers); and in exchange for my compliance, she let me have a handful of friends overnight for a fancy dinner. I even got to use the dining room and the china.

Staying in on New Years then became a lifetime pleasure.

It may seem cool to get drunk at 20; but by 30, it’s grown stale (whether you’ve noticed or not;) and if you’re still partying at 40, you’re fraying around the edges, and no one even wants to look after that.

Don’t tell me you’re having fun because fun isn’t slurring your words, and spilling your drinks, and waking up miserable. Fun isn’t a DUI at 45 or rehab at 17.

If you’re not an alcoholic, why act like one?

Maybe you can’t see yourself. Maybe it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes; but ask any child, and she can tell you.  She sees the pain you’re hiding. And the sadness. Or the anger. And the fear. And the boredom. She knows how to play the fool without a substance that ultimately steals the joy.

Wake up! Why do you want to repeat what your parents did? You’re kidding yourself if you think you’re different.

When it comes to getting drunk, we’re all the same.

Kelly Salasin, December 29, 2011

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Home for the Holidays

No matter how “enlightened” I  feel in from my perch in the Green Mountains, everything shifts when I return to the place of my origin by the sea.

Once arriving in the arms of my extended family, I feel both a sense of “sweet belonging” and complete uprooted-ness.

Within 48 hours among familiar faces & places, the old feelings of inadequacy, confusion and anxiety consume my previously clear mind.

I begin to panic, wondering how these old “enemies” continue to find me here.  Where do they hide?

But there are angels too. Friends who mention breath on Facebook.  You Tube prayers of peace.

And I discover something new about these old uncomfortable expressions of expectation:  If I remain present to them, however excruciating, they dissipate, quickly, and I am “myself” again, wherever I am–especially here among the salt water and the sand and the sea.

I used to think that life was a journey from A to Z, but now I know that peace IS an every moment kind of thing.

Kelly Salasin