Most drunken thanksgiving memories are not really my own.
…sitting across the table from someone, unable to take my eyes off their beautiful teeth, now stained bruise-gray from red wine…
…someone else insisting they’d once seen my grandmother’s cat run up the entire wall from floor to ceiling. He is swaying and slurring from hours of vodka and I am clucking my tongue and nodding like you would at a small child telling tales…
These happened years ago when I was still drinking, though it was my style to stay just sober enough to pull the meal together and – my least favorite part to this day – divvy up the leftovers, which requires concentration and math.
Number of guests + lids that actually fit x who wants to take home sauerkraut anyway, hmm? = I have to do this all over again with leftover pie?
After the last ill-fitting lid was mashed on, all bets were off.
This wasn’t just thanksgiving but any event where respectable, caring eyes were upon me.
There was the new year’s eve party where I stayed to help clean up and clanked my teeth against the heavy lip of a champagne bottle because it was well past the point of propriety and stemware.
(Only a select few got to see me really sloppy.)
There was the time I snuck off to drink in a quiet alcove in my grandmother’s basement after the crowd thinned from her 80th birthday party.
(Finally, I could catch up to my drunk sister-in-law who was already passed out upstairs.)
Or what about my wedding day, where there’s a picture of me (somewhere) gulping a beer away from fussy relatives and coworkers I barely knew, but not stealthy photographers.
(A young lady in a wedding dress shouldn’t need to pound beer like some college kid or desperate drunk.)
Much of my sneaking around was simply saving face, though there was also thrill in waiting to really get my drunk on. Delayed gratification, holding onto control and then letting go. In the later years, I waited less and less or not at all. Any illusion of control slipped away.
The thing about secretive drinking is it packs in the same amount of alcohol a more open drunk might spread out over five or six hours. It comes with the same wicked hangovers and a side of shame you can’t acknowledge, let alone purge. It is scary and weird is what I’m now realizing. I don’t miss it.
This will be my third sober thanksgiving and I welcome whatever it brings.
If this is your first sober holiday (or second or tenth), please read this excellent primer by Running on Sober. I picked up a couple new tips for this year.
Sober holidays get easier over time, but the first couple might sting a little, so go easy on yourself and shove pie down your gullet and wash it down with a boat of gravy if you need to. This is a kind of warm and fuzzy war.
This year I’m going to make sure I have plenty of Aunt Helen’s punch on hand because let’s be serious — drinking gravy is dangerous if it’s hot and disgusting if it’s not. Plus drinking all the gravy would make for dry leftovers and regrets, and we don’t have to live like that anymore.
64 oz Cranberry Juice
12 oz frozen lemonade
46 oz pineapple juice
1 liter bottle ginger ale
Lemon to garnish
Combine all ingredients well. Chill. Add extra ginger ale to serve.