For a lot people having one too many glasses of mulled wine or fizz is the best thing about the festive period. From Christmas parties to boxing day in the pub, what was once a month centered around spending time with the ones we loved regardless of what they ate or drink, is now an excuse to drink all the alcohol in sight. At our work Christmas party, some colleagues seemed more interested in the amount of alcohol they would drink than the party itself and in the supermarkets people are piling all the alcohol into the trolleys. This is my second year not drinking alcohol at Christmas due to medical reasons and I'm not even missing it. I can count all the alcoholic drinks I've had this year on my hands and feet (well two hands and one foot to be exact), while a large proportion of people would need hundreds of bodies to calculate their consumption.
I'm very lucky that I have really understanding family, friends and colleagues, all of which are aware of the circumstances that prohibit me to drink, but out of my immediate social circle, I have felt pressured to drink and that shouldn't be the case, no-one should feel pressured to put anything in their body and although alcohol is the norm for a lot of people, for some it isn't. Christmas in particular, there's a lot of peer pressure to drink without people realising that they are enforcing it on people.
For example, I have been to events where alcohol has been put in my hands without me even asking for it. It is automatically assumed that I should drink it and if I do pass it up, I then feel obliged to tell them my whole medical history because 'not wanting alcohol' isn't a good enough excuse. At parties I have been made to feel like 'i'm not joining in with properly' if I don't drink alcohol and I have also had the phrase 'why come if you cannot drink?' said to me before - well I'm sorry that me spending time with my friends isn't a good enough reason to come out, god forbid that I actually want to make an effort.
Also what really annoys me is the lack of sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks in the supermarkets that are catered towards non-drinkers, no offence to Shloer, but I feel like a ten year old trying to fit in an adult party and my mum muttering to me 'this is a grown up drink, it will help you fit in'. Admittedly, many stores are now selling non-alcoholic alternatives to alcohol such as non-alcoholic wine, but these are put in the alcohol section so it is made to look like you are conforming to a drinking society when really you are not. Also you have to be 18 and over to buy non-alcoholic wine, yep wine with no alcohol in it...so juice, just grape juice. M&S has angered me this year for pulling their zero alcohol pulled punch that they sold last year - last year it was the highlight of my Christmas. My family enjoyed drinking it with me around the fire despite it being alcohol free. Thankfully, Holland and Barrett saved me from a Christmas deprived of zero alcohol mulled wine with a mulled punch that they stock.
In short, Christmas isn't about alcohol, excessive drinking, passing out on the sofa before lunch time after too many morning proseccos, spending all boxing day in bed nursing hangovers. Christmas is about spending time with loved ones and actually remembering the time you spent with them. I'm not anti-alcohol, if I was meds free I would happily enjoy a tipple or two - even though I've never been one to drink to excess. It's just some people need a gentle reminder that Christmas is for making special memories that last a lifetime and that life is too short to be living in an alcohol fueled daze.
Have you experienced pressure to drink at Christmas?