Alcohol

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All month long I’m going to be hosting the posts of other people as part of my 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour. All the guest bloggers are welcome to write about anything they’d like so long as their post touched on a December holiday in some way, no matter how tangentially. The blog tour extends beyond my blog as well, and I will do my best to link to each external post from the here and share them on social media using the hashtag #GiftmasTour.

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A Season for Sensible, Sober Soirees…Hang on…What?!

by Rebecca Gibson

Alcohol.

I imagine by now you’ve all consumed a lot of it.

Perhaps you’re reading this with a woolly head, nursing your festive hangover with a small dose of denial…of course you can still handle your drink, you’re exactly the same as when you were eighteen (honest!)…

Yet, hidden in normal society, traversing this strange no man’s land between Christmas and New Year, there’s the anomalies like me.

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I don’t drink.

I don’t just drink on special occasions. I don’t just drink one every now and again because you told me to. I. Don’t. Drink. Like, at all.

Take a deep breath and compose yourself. What you just read is true. Your hungover eyes doth not deceive you. I don’t drink.

The first word that probably springs to your mind is one that, believe me, is pretty much more used in reference to myself than my actual name – boring. Yes, I suppose from the outside, not drinking is boring. All of our social gatherings, every single festival we have, is based around the consumption of alcohol. Heck, wine is even consumed at church.

There are a lot of reactions to telling people I don’t drink. As someone in their early twenties, meeting other people in their early twenties, the first reaction seems to always be disbelief. As if I’m going to turn around and say “only joking, I’ll have vodka please!” although, the look on their face always makes it clear this would be a joke too far. The next reaction is to question.

xmas2Mocktales!

“Why?”

“Is it a religious thing?”

Let’s cast our minds back to the wine in church thing for a second here…how could it be religious to not drink alcohol?

“How do you have fun?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

And my personal, least favourite response…

“Just have one…for me?!”

Erm…who are you? Why would I drink for you when I only met you five minutes ago? I don’t even drink for the friends I lived with for three years.

No.

Let’s contextualise this matter for a moment. Would you turn around to a vegetarian during your Christmas feast and hold a turkey leg in their face, urging them to just try a little bit. Just for them…pretty please.

No.

Society would be sickened to their stomach if you did that. You’d be chucked out the house and left in the cold.

If you slipped a slice of ham in a vegan’s sandwich and looked on with a smirk as they consumed it and then realised what you’d done when it was too late, you’d be shamed. So, why is it acceptable – funny even – to slip alcohol into my drink without my knowing?

I made an informed decision. Please let me honour it.

I don’t find not drinking hard. I hate drinking, for me it’s very easy not to partake. I find people’s reactions to it hard. I’ve not stood up in a bar and declared my sympathetic feelings for criminals, through the medium of interpretive dance. I’ve just made a dietary choice. I don’t like the taste of alcohol. I don’t like the feeling of alcohol. I don’t like the calorie intake and I particularly don’t like the price.

It isn’t like I refuse to go to social gatherings. I had a very normal University experience, as my personal Facebook photo albums will tell you (if they weren’t all set to private, sorry not sorry). I went out to nightclubs where you stuck to the floor and frequented the local bars until morning. I made shed loads of friends and was never stuck for something to do. I just did everything stone cold sober. I even went travelling between my second and third year of Uni. Probably with the money I saved from not buying alcohol.

xmas3I’m a normal human…see?

Trust me, this earns bragging rights. Whilst my friends were huddled on the sofa, cradling fast food and steaming mugs of tea, I could waltz on in as clear headed as ever I was. I’m also a lifelong designated driver, without there ever needing to be an argument about it (unless you refuse to give me some petrol money, then it hits the fan my friends). Wouldn’t that come in handy on New Year’s Eve?

So, why is it such an issue? Especially within this festive period, where alcohol centres around every gathering and is consumed by the gallon. Well, this is a question I would love the answer to.

Countless times I’ve told people my secret and they’ve simply walked off. I can see the darkening in their eyes as I divulge. I have resorted to avoiding the subject, telling people only when I absolutely have to. I’ve had friendships for months before the found out about my non-drinking ways, through fear they would suddenly feel alienated from me.

To clarify, if you want to drink, help yourself. I am not preaching the good graces of T-total living. My own parents drink wine more than they drink water. I am also not here to talk down to you from my pedestal of superiority or some pretentious bollocks like that. I simply want to understand why it’s such a big deal in today’s society not to drink. In this world of acceptance, where everyone has their thing, what’s wrong with me not drinking alcohol?

I’ve spoken to countless people who wish they didn’t drink, yet they do it to fit in. They don’t want to be that person left on the side lines. That’s not right in my eyes. In this generation we should be able to do as we please. If we want to have a T-total Christmas, a T-total New Year, why shouldn’t we?

Freedom of choice my friends. If you want to get plastered, get plastered. If you want to stay sober, stay damned well sober.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Are you feeling clear headed or muddy brained in the break between Christmas and New Year?

 

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3 thoughts on “Alcohol

  1. I love this post because of the photos and the funny tone, but I do need to point out two things that get lost in the humor a bit.

    1. Wine in church is specific to Christianity, and only some denominations of Christianity–there are plenty of religions that forbid the consumption of alcohol.

    2. There is something to be said for moderation. There is a whole spectrum of choices between staying totally sober and getting plastered.

    That being said, I totally respect your decision not to drink and I do know how difficult it can be. I grew up in a family of alcoholics and recovering alcoholics so I’ve seen the whole spectrum of peer pressure (from pressure to drink to pressure not to drink) and I know how ugly it can get. I hope that the incidents of people being dicks about it have been exaggerated for comedic effect in this post though because you deserve better.

    And now that I’ve been a total Debbie Downer on your funny post… uh… Happy Sober New Year?

    🙂

  2. Another non-drinker here, also by choice. Same reasons, too, from the sound of it–don’t like the taste, the effects, or the cost. I used to drink wine at Mass, though lately my fear of mono (etc.) has limited me to Communion instead. Occasionally I’ll take a sip of something someone else is drinking if it sounds interesting (chocolate, spicy Mayan beer? really?), but that’s it.

    Overall, I’ve not experienced a lot of especially negative reactions. I’ve had people hand me drinks anyway, which I’ve simply set down and ignored. My dad offers me a glass every time he opens a bottle of wine, and I’m honestly not sure whether he’s trying to get me to drink, or he doesn’t actually know that I’ve chosen not to. 😛 No one has ever found out and simply walked away from me, but then again, I also never go to clubs and rarely go to parties, so I’ve spent little time in alcohol-centric settings as it is.

    I have noticed, though, that it makes people uncomfortable–they seem to think that I’m judging them for drinking, when in fact I’ve merely made a choice not to do so myself. (Like you, I don’t care if other people drink.) I wonder if it’s the connection between alcohol and social settings–rejecting ‘communal drinking’, as it were, is seen as a rejection of social conventions themselves? I dunno.

    Anyway, glad to meet a fellow non-drinker!

    • Yay! Happy sober new year to you too! Yes, I think it is exactly what you say. People are wary because you’re different. Everyone around is drinking, why not you? And the (perfectly valid) excuse “I just don’t want to” doesn’t go down too well. However, as I get older (I’m 23 now so the people around me are slowly maturing) people tend to have better reactions. They comment on my will power and how they wish they didn’t drink now.

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