The truth about eggnog is–it makes no sense without rum. No one wants to admit that, especially someone who quit drinking, but it’s a fact. My husband brought home some reduced fat eggnog about a week and a half ago and it’s been sitting in the refrigerator unopened ever since. I know my husband was trying to do something nice, bringing me a tradition, a little season’s greetings, something he knew I loved, but it’s now just a reminder.
During the holidays when I would go to visit my husband’s family, eggnog was my drug of choice. Pour yourself an eggnog on the rocks, heavy on the rum, sprinkle a little nutmeg and you’ve got dessert and a cocktail all in one. It went down much the way White Russians did when I discovered them in high school–sweet and innocent but with a nice kick. You barely felt yourself getting drunk, but drunk you got.
My husband’s family was always big on the Connecticut Christmas and I just adored being a part of it. At Jon’s parents’ house where we stayed every year (in twin beds–even after we were married) there was a huge, impeccably decorated tree (the kind with ornaments that had been passed down through generations), holiday music on the stereo, home cooked meals and most importantly, regular cocktail hour.
Regular cocktail hour is important here because as someone who didn’t come from the most stable family situation, the need to fit in created a bit of internal tension and alcohol was the most reliable way I knew to melt that feeling away.
The first few times I drank too much in Connecticut, it probably seemed like a fluke. I mean, the drinks flowed steadily because we were in a festive mood without much cause to drive anywhere. It was understandable that we’d catch a little buzz, but I can’t imagine it made the best impression on anyone to have me babbling and slurring and then going off to bed by nine. I seemed to drink more and more on each subsequent trip.
The last time I was drunk at my in-laws, we’d traveled there with our almost two-year-old daughter. Yes, we’d traveled across the country with a toddler–there’s a good reason to drink right there, and now we were trying to keep her entertained in a house with breakables twenty-four hours a day. I’d gotten an early start on the eggnog that afternoon and had decided to go to dinner with my sister-in-law and her good friend while my husband stayed at the house with his parents and our daughter. I’d already had quite a bit to drink before we left and drank so much at dinner I can’t tell you much of what happened because I only see it in bits and pieces. What I do know is that I stumbled back into the house and in an effort to check on my daughter who was asleep in her pack-n-play in the basement, I fell down the stairs. I don’t have any recollection of doing this. I had to be told about it later by my mortified husband.
It would be another six months before I admitted I had a problem and another year and a half before I did something about it. I haven’t had a drink now in nineteen months and for the most part I don’t miss it. Most things I can do just fine now without alcohol. Family, Christmas trees, even spending time with my in-laws, these things are just as good–actually even better.
The only thing that will never work for me without alcohol now is eggnog.
Note: This post originally ran in 2010.
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is the author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour: And Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down, which were based on her blog, “Baby on Bored,” and It’s Not Me, It’s You: Subjective Recollections of a Terminally Optimistic, Chronically Sarcastic and Occasionally Inebriated Woman. On television, she acts as the go-to parenting expert for NBC’s “The Today Show” and has been featured on The Dr. Phil Show. Her new book, I’m Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy, comes out June 2011. To read an interview with Stefanie, click here.