By Ferrell Foster
’Tis the season to be merry! Christmas and New Year are coming, and merriment is in the air. In fact, we hardly ever use the word “merry” except in relation to Christmas.
So what does this little-used word mean? Dictionary.com to the rescue:
— full of cheerfulness or gaiety; joyous in disposition or spirit
— laughingly happy; mirthful; festively joyous; hilarious
You’ve got to love a little merrymaking.
But, there is, however, a problem. For some strange reason, our culture has come to associate merry making with drinking lots of alcohol. There is probably no better indication of a sickness in our society than that we associate fun with consuming vast quantities of something that numbs our thinking.
Cutting to the chase: This holiday season, try making merry without a bunch of alcohol. A little is OK, but a lot can ruin a party and a life.
Most people do not think of what they do as binge drinking — that’s what foolish college students do. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as four drinks for women and five drinks for men on one occasion.
“Heavy drinking” is eight or more drinks in a week for a woman and 15 or more for a man. (It seems alcohol is a bit sexist.)
I’m concerned broadly about the negative effects of heavy drinking on people. The more I learn about challenges facing individuals and families, the more it becomes obvious substance abuse is playing a huge part — from mental health to quality parenting, from ability to hold a job to deadly auto accidents. It’s the ugly truth that alcohol commercials never depict.
Pardon me for being direct, but some people will probably die in the next couple of weeks because some otherwise good people drink too much at a party and then drive. Please, don’t drink and drive; you might save a life, even though you will never know it. You will, however, know it for the rest of your life if you kill someone, as will all of the people who love your victim.
Also, there are some people around you who really struggle with limiting their alcohol intake. Please don’t let your own ability to “handle” a drink make it hard for people around you.
Be smart this Christmas and New Years. Be safe. Having fun need not be associated with heavy drinking. The holidays will be best in Waco if we keep the lid on drinking.
Ferrell Foster is senior specialist for care & communication with Prosper Waco.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].