Sober New Year

Sober new year. Dry January. Whatever they’re calling it. I didn’t really know it was a thing until recently when I stumbled across this article from the UK. I decided one night in December that I’d take off drinking alcohol and coffee (both of which I was drinking way to much off that month) from New Years Day until my birthday, which is a little more than midway through January. Just a couple weeks off, clean out my system, get back into a “normal” drinking routine thereafter.  

Now, the article I linked suggested that staying sober (or attempting to) is akin to hiding your alcoholism. That is, if you have to consciously abstain, you have a problem. Maybe.

From Thanksgiving until New Years Day, gluttony is an issue. We eat too much. We revel too much. We drink too much. We sit down for extended meals, pour an extra glass of wine (or beer), we eat piles of desserts (as someone who isn’t much of a dessert eater, this is a great change of eating habits). The married amongst us also know that we do this at different homes, for different meals, on consecutive days. My wife and I had, I think, three to four sit-down Turkey dinners during the course of the holiday season.

We head off to holiday parties with their specialty drinks and hors d’oeuvres . Basically, for people like me, who generally eats healthily and drinks frequently, but sparingly (sure, I’ll drink 5-6 nights a week, but it’ll be a single beer or a glass of wine with dinner many of those nights). Even on the weekends, it’s not uncommon for 3-4 beers to be the absolute max. Our meals are balanced and well-portioned.

But come the holidays, this all goes out the proverbial window. This makes me partially thankful that I don’t have a sweet tooth, and, thus, don’t start the gluttony at Halloween.

My sober January isn’t really a sober January at all. In total, I was looking for 17 days of sobriety/no coffee. As a craft beer writer, how can I not celebrate with a good beer? However, I didn’t realize how often I was given the opportunity to drink and I’ve already been off the wagon. Last night, we were invited to a food/beer pairing dinner, a free event in Boston with fantastic food and beer that’s generally not available locally. How could we pass that up? A free meal? A night off from cooking? The beer samples were small and I probably had  – at best – two beers in total volume. But my streak was broken. I’d gone six days.

And, of course, I’ve been commissioned to write a story on local micro-distilleries and the interview was set up for this coming Friday, so there’s another day down the drain. It’s going to be hard to write a story about whiskey if I haven’t tasted it.

So dry January officially lasted six days and I’ll just take “regular” days off. Since technically, I was “working” at the beer dinner and I’ll be “working” this week at the distillery, maybe those days don’t count. I was trying, after all, to just cleanse the system a bit, not quit entirely.

That I can cook an elegant dinner or watch the Patriots play the Colts on Saturday night and not be tempted to have a beer or a glass of bourbon is truly what I’m trying to accomplish here. The point is, I think, that we all, to some degree, get out of our eating and drinking routine during the holidays. We do too much of both. It takes a little abstaining to get back into a normal weekly routine.

Many people opt to not drink during January. A way to counteract the over-imbibing of the holidays or a cry for help?
Many people opt to not drink during January. A way to counteract the over-imbibing of the holidays or a cry for help?

The article says, “If you are worried about the amount you have been drinking, the answer is not to swear of drink for a month.” What are they implying? But we’re also eating healthier, more-balanced, better-portioned meals. Isn’t that the point? Instead of an extra helping of stuffing and gravy, we’re ensuring we’re eating a vegetable with dinner each night. In the same way, I’m opting for a large glass of water post dinner instead of an 11% barley wine. It’s the healthier option.

It’s about eliminating the unnecessary imbibing that took place excessively over the last six weeks.

Dry January is in full swing for most people, including me (who’s doing Dry Half-January), unless, of course, something that involves drinking comes up.

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