I always have to laugh when I hear the stern warnings about drinking too much during the holidays. Considering all the anxiety and stress we have to deal with—and alcohol’s unique ability to relieve both—telling people not to drink seems a lot like telling a man engulfed in flame not to jump in a lake. Because he might, you know, drown.
Which of course, won’t happen, unless you’ve convinced yourself drowning is a much sweeter fate than another day at the mall looking for that gift you know deep in your heart doesn’t really exist.
More likely you’ll just want to paddle around a little. After a long day of shopping and dealing with relatives, a handful of drinks will let you paddle out far enough that your family and all the people you’re supposed to be buying gifts for look like tiny little ants milling around on the shore. Don’t seem so intimidating from that distance, do they?
Of course, the aforementioned critics will attempt to diminish this fine escape by rather smugly announcing that one’s troubles will still be there when you wake up to find yourself hungover on the shore. It’s an age-old indictment that makes as much sense as cancelling your vacation in Cancun because, hey, your job will still be there when you get back. They’re failing to grasp three very fundamental truths: 1) even a temporary escape is better than no escape at all, 2) cheap alcohol is readily available in Mexico and 3) your relatives are not.
The holidays are also well known for heightening feelings of fear, loneliness, and self-doubt. Again, a trip to a bar for a few drinks and hearty companionship can be a huge help. Fear is squelched (what’s she gonna do, throw a drink in your face?), loneliness is very nearly impossible (your only worry is she and her hot friend might get in a catfight over you) and self-doubt is cast aside (my man, the only reason she threw that drink your face is because she was afraid of losing the catfight).
And so what if that confidence is temporary or unfounded? As Shakespeare pointed out, “‘tis better to wrongly think you’re a prince for a while, then to know for damn sure you’re a peasant who’s way way out of his league.”
So when the flames of holiday anxiety and stress start lapping up around your eyeballs, take my advice and go jump in a lake.
–Frank Kelly Rich