A common conversation at the many holiday parties I’ve attended either merrily or obligingly regarded how the weeks leading up until Christmas are binge session after binge session. The stress of gift giving or holiday travel hardly came up. But I heard and shared many complaints like, “I just can’t drink anymore,” or “I’m seriously considering a dry January.”
Whether it’s peer pressure or the softening of awkward social situations with co-workers or distant relatives, holiday drinking certainly takes the edge off, and drains the wallet.
Late in December, before a holiday gathering that my boss promised to buy the first round, a co-worker complained that she’d already spent so much money and worn her liver out so much that she was considering not attending. We commiserated about the strong obligation we felt to show face. Just the very hint of “I have to go” sours the deal for me, alcohol or not.
Another coworker complained how dehydrated she felt and how her skin was so dry from all the boozing. I looked at my reflection in my laptop and saw a tired and blotchy face and just wanted go home, get on the couch and drink tea.
We agreed to go “just for one drink,” and miraculously stuck to our promise but I admit the dirty gin martini, just one, really made the experience more pleasant. Not that I dislike my co-workers, but a douchey midtown bar is just painful.
We small talked about the usual: holiday travel and last minute gifting and laughed about the strange feeling of being champagne buzzed at work after a recent midday office party. Ironically, we were surprised at how everyone seemed like they were getting sick.
I was out of it that evening. The weekend before I’d gone to a Vodka Latkes Hannukah celebration (which ruled!) and the next day I would host a Greenpointers Holiday Party for our writers in which I followed my boss’ example and bought the first round.
All that before Christmas and I’d already woken up groggy with a headache more than a few days this month. My body and my bank account will be depleted by New Year’s, so maybe an alcohol free January is the solution. Maybe an AA meeting would be a more permanent solution.
Drinking has become so deeply embedded in holiday merriment that it would seem foreign not to enjoy mulled wine, bourbon, or spiked egg nog. Moderation is definitely the key, but even when you promise the one drink, there are so many one drinks (and let’s face it more) that it amounts to a lot.
How do you “deal” with all the holiday drinking? Do you avoid work parties or say fuck it and get wasted and make a fool out of yourself? (We’ve all been there.) Will you have a dry January or do a juice cleanse? Or can you truly be moderate throughout the holidays?