* I know this is a weird title for a blog post but really, there is no other way to summarize what I’m about to write about. Here goes!
Sooooo, the recent snowfall has filled me with All The Holiday Feelings. I had a free day yesterday so I put my boots on and walked down to Westboro for a bit of window shopping. It was sunny, fairly warm for December, and I was feeling pretty good. I think this is a record for me. It’s probably the earliest I’ve started my Christmas shopping and wasn’t dreading it like one would a plague of locusts or the stomach flu. ;)
One of the things I don’t like about this time of year is the pressure to buy stuff. You can TRY to avoid the message to BUY BUY BUY but it’s hard to do, even at home. Our household has been inundated with Christmassy flyers and circulars. I’m sure yours has too. There’s no escaping it, really. I toss most of the flyers in the recycle bin because I know that if I flip through them I am more likely to overspend, but I broke my rule this morning. I found myself leafing through a glossy mini-catalogue that arrived in our mailbox today when I spotted these:
What do you guys think of this kind of stuff?
Maybe I’m getting old and crabby but it makes me cringe every time I see something that glorifies drinking alcohol use in this way. This stuff is everywhere right now but there seems to be a big influx at Christmas as we struggle to buy gifts for everyone on our list. There are wine-themed glasses, aprons, throw pillows, oven mitts, coffee mugs… you name it, there’s a version with a wine or booze theme. Have you noticed that most are usually aimed at women? Wine-related gifts are a huge category on Amazon. (This is apparently a best seller! Ugh.)
I can see how the conversations around holiday giving unfold:
“What can we buy Auntie Mae?”
“WELL, she loves alcohol! So let’s get her a wall plaque that says “All you need is love and a bottle of wine” in big letters so she can hang it in her kitchen and look at it every day!”
Am I humourless? Too politically correct? I don’t know. I only know that as the parents of two teenagers we do our darndest to explain the perils of alcohol abuse and this kind of branded messaging flies in the face of everything we’re trying to do. These kinds of products make alcohol consumption seem fun and encourage drinking to excess. These messages normalize binge drinking. They also make it seem like we NEED alcohol to get through a hard day… which I think is possibly the most damaging to teenagers who can find life kinda tough, even at the best of times.
I know these products are meant to be funny, but you might have a different point of view if you know anyone who drinks too much. Or how about this? Substitute the text on every alcohol-related gag item with the equivalent about smoking and cigarettes. Try it. It sounds weird. Imagine a throw pillow, apron, or T-shirt with one of the following phrases printed on it:
Any time is SMOKE TIME!
Smile, there’s always cigarettes!
Smoke a little, you’ll feel better!
My book club only reads cigarette labels.
Keep calm and have a cigarette.
Most of us would probably think items like that are pretty tasteless and possibly encouraging an unhealthy addiction.
I’ve also tried to be a bit more mindful of how I refer to drinking around my kids. I used to catch myself coming home from a long day and asking Mark to pour me a glass of something. “Make it a double,” I’d joke. (Because, obviously, this was to convey that it was an especially tough day at work.) It might be subtle, but what kind of message was I sending to my children when I said this? Is it hypocritical of me to tell them drinking too much is unhealthy and that we should never look to alcohol to solve a problem or change a tough situation… and then make a comment like “make mine a double honey!”
We tell them alcohol is to be savoured like a piece of cheese or chocolate cake, and that one or two servings is usually enough. So what does it mean when products that are available everywhere are telling us that we should make cocktails “when all else fails”?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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