Thirty years ago, I know it was thirty years ago since I was 21 at the time and I am 51 now. Thirty years ago, I was home from college, I am not sure if it was a weekend trip, a holiday, or part of summer break, but I was home. My grandmother was in the later stages of Leukemia and would pass from this life in March of ’89. Nanny, as we called her, grew up in a home where wine was a part of their meals. However, after she and her sisters obeyed the Gospel, she gave up drinking alcohol at some point. But as she sat confined to her home, she called her daughter (my mother) and asked if she would go by the store and pick up some wine, she wanted to taste it again, and she thought maybe it would make her feel a little better. She only wanted a small glass.
My mother does not drink alcohol of any kind. To my knowledge, the only time alcoholic beverages were in our house was when Dad would borrow a can of beer from a neighbor for Mom’s hushpuppy recipe. Whatever did not go into the hushpuppies went down the kitchen sink. However, on this occasion, my grandmother’s request touched a deep place in my mother’s heart. She wanted to comfort her mother, but faced an internal conflict over purchasing wine. Since I was an upper classman in college studying to be a preacher, she asked what I thought.
Nanny was glad to see us and after a while asked about the wine. Mom and I had stopped at a store when I purchase some wine. I do not recall exactly what I bought, only that it was not the cheapest nor the most expensive option. Mom poured her a glass, and Nanny said, she did not want to drink the glass alone. I drank a glass with her. It was my first taste of alcohol of any sort. My friends in high school drank; many of them to excess. I had friends who parents or grandparents were alcoholics. Yet, up to that point I had not given in to peer pressure to drink. While drinking that four ounces of wine, I had a simple thought; “Why do people drink this? Dr. Pepper tastes a whole lot better.” That was my first and my last glass of wine or any alcoholic beverage.
I thought about that event last night while Amy shared with me an questionnaire in a book she was using to build a Health lesson for her 4th Grade students. The book is Instructor’s Big Book of Health and Safety, published by Scholastic in 1990, edited by Sandra Markle.
There is a lesson in that book entitled “Alcohol: Why Do People Drink?” This is the same question I asked myself thirty years ago. One I still asked today. Scholastics’ take home lesson was for the students to get permission to watch and evening drama with their parent(s) and then to answer the following questions:
- How many times did you see a character have an alcoholic drink?
- Was the purpose ever just to have something to hold on to or fill the gaps between conversations? Could a soft drink have served this purpose?
- Did any character have a drink to relax? If yes, what else could they have done to relax?
- Did any character have a drink to recover from some terribly upsetting event? If yes, did the drink really seem to act like a medicine making things better, or did the person continue to be upset and have problems?
- Was the alcohol ever used to help the characters “strengthen” themselves before facing a difficult situation? If yes, did this character do exceptionally well after the drink or the same as you would have expected without the drink – perhaps not very well at all?
- Was alcohol ever used as a way of celebrating? If yes, what else could have symbolized a celebration?
As Amy shared this with me, I thought, “Exactly!” In every situation described in this health book, a soft drink (Coke, soda, or pop depending on where you live), a cup of coffee, tea (hot or cold), milk (chocolate milk), citrus juice, or water could have taken the place of alcohol.
Knowledge is power!
- Know that your body does not require alcohol.
- Know that non-alcoholic drinks are great options.
- Know that any health benefits that supposedly come from alcohol are also in other drinks and foods.
Knowledge is power! There are better and often healthier options.
Now that you know, what will you do?