“I don’t know if there’ll be snow, so have a cup of cheer.”
Ah, yes. The “cup of cheer.” If you’re like many Americans, you’ve been partaking in more than your fair share of “cheer” since March. Because…2020. Going back to COVID’s Purple tier was discouraging, and with the recent new restrictions regarding travel and quarantine, there’s great worry and mayhem all over again. I thought it was funny back in March when people spoke of a toilet paper shortage, because it didn’t affect me directly. But now, seriously, my family is in desperate need and there is nary a roll! OK, pass the wine…
Research firm Nielsen, per the L.A. Times, reported that this November there was a whopping 24% rise in alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants. I would hazard a guess that during the holiday season, people will compensate for their lack of “Holly Jolly Christmas” with loved ones with more than just a mug of eggnog (what’s that stuff made of anyway?!).
Yep, we no longer have a need to joke about the drunk uncle. ‘Cause most of us now are the drunk uncle. The lonely, pandemic-y, barely coping during the holiday drunk uncle (or, y’know, aunt…or cousin…or sister…). A study published by JAMA Psychiatry in 2017 suggests that 1 in 8 Americans are alcoholics. The stress of the pandemic mixed with the overall heartbreak of the current state of affairs is a perfect recipe for alcohol abuse this holiday season. There are plenty of memes and jokes about alcohol abuse circulating on social media, making it seem normal and acceptable, but in truth, it’s no laughing matter.
I come to you with this information as someone who has found myself wanting to reach for alcohol lately more than I care to admit. I vowed that during my four-month Olympic training block I would not have a drink. I didn’t realize how significant this step was until I found myself actually craving a drink when the stress of family pandemic life finally felt like too much to bear, at which point I absentmindedly opened the liquor cabinet and started bargaining with myself, thinking that maybe just one wouldn’t hurt. That’s when I realized that, yes, a glass of wine was, in fact, my coping strategy when times got tough.
So this is the first year in many years that I am having a dry holiday season. Sitting with sadness and feeling uncomfortable or stressed during the holiday season is hard. But more often than not, the things that are the most worthwhile are also the most difficult.
This isn’t meant to preach at you not to drink alcohol – it’s merely a suggestion to reflect on why, especially in this shelter-in-place season of life, you may find yourself reaching for a glass. “If it feels good, do it” is a lazy motto. Let’s rise above! “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”–Abraham Lincoln. Now there’s a motto worth getting behind.
Fellow Milpitians, I wish you all a conscientious and healthy holiday season! And all the toilet paper you can get your hands on.