During the holidays, nine out of ten college students experience something special for the first time. No, it isn’t sex with someone you liked in high school. And no, it isn’t the “true meaning of the season"—that’s something made up to sell Furbys or some garbage. It’s getting drunk with your parents. (Full admission: The above statistic is made up. Sorry, we're not sorry.)
You’ve been watching your parents get drunk at neighborhood gatherings, after work, and even just after waking up, for years. Now it’s time to take your seat at the big boy’s barstool. Whether it’s Mom pouring T.G.I. Friday’s margaritas into a festive cup for you as she gripes about Aunt Sharon’s new “friend,” or your dad calling you into the garage for a Budweiser “between men,” it’s time to get sauced with those who sired you. This can be a strange and difficult experience.
No matter how crazy your parents may be, they raised another human being from infancy, and that child is still willing to come home for the holidays. This puts them in the top 30 percent of humanity.
At first, you’ll only feel excited that the days of sneaking whiskey nips from the liquor cabinet have finally ended, but don’t get ahead of yourself. To your parents, you’re a vampire: You don’t drink with them until you’ve been invited. Don’t think that, with finals over and some Camus under your belt, you can saunter into the living room to pour up some B&B and talk shop with Pops. Pump the brakes. In fact, it’s best to wait until your elders have already imbibed before you begin.
Another tip: Never get drunker than your parents. You’re a rookie. All the beer ponging and keg standing you’ve done the last few semesters has not prepared you for the depths of drunkenness that decades of life’s crushing disappointment has pushed your folks into. The best you can hope for is an Andrew Luck-level performance, as you’re drinking with the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning of armchair chugging. See, it’s not about good manners; it’s about survival. At your drunkest, you might tell your bro you love him. That's as intense as it'll get. When your parents get rolling, they want to talk about how maybe the can't pay the bills for Grandma’s hospice care. You cannot hang with that. Don’t let yourself get pulled into serious conversations while smashed. Keep your wits about you, or else you’ll wind up learning things about the world that your parents have spent plenty time and money keeping you away from.
This should go without saying, but don’t bring up politics. You likely have a new-found set of political and cultural beliefs that you’ve gained from your TA (who wears a blazer), or that weed-smoking RA of yours. Keep these freshly adopted “radical” views to yourself. If your parents are going to change their perspective this late in the game, the kid whose ass they once wiped won't be the one to do it. Besides, for most parents, the only relevant component of politics is taxes, and they couldn’t care less about medical marijuana or farm subsidies or anything else that doesn’t impact their day-to-day. Gender normative pronouns aren’t sweating their bottom line, so keep Ze to yourself.
Some of you unlucky souls will have to drink with extended family as well. There’s little help we can offer, as we wouldn’t wish such a fate on our enemies. No matter how crazy your parents may be, they raised another human being from infancy, and that child is still willing to come home for the holidays. This puts them in the top 30 percent of humanity. Your Uncle Ron is at the other side, barely able restrain himself from betting on ponies and smacking the asses of servers without warning.
For most of the year, your nuclear family can simply ignore the heinous deeds of your extended family, but at Christmas all of the skeletons get laid on your doorstep, passed out, naked, with a fifth of Jack at hand. Though drinking with the family can be exciting, when Uncle Ron starts shouting after your father refuses to give him another “small loan,” you might find yourself yearning for the days of the kiddie table. The only words of wisdom we can provide: Identify your Uncle Ron. Then, do not sit next to Uncle Ron.
This new chapter of your life won’t be easy, but the alternative is sipping virgin eggnog with your younger sister while watching The Santa Clause as the adults get louder in the next room. Don’t worry though—on most nights, you can just borrow the car you drove in high school and hide out at the bar, or at the house of a friend with estranged parents who don’t speak to each other. Those places are heaps of fun. During those difficult few nights stuck at home, remember that you drink with your family at your own risk.
Written by Brenden Gallagher (@muddycreekU)