My earliest memories of Thanksgiving start in the furthest corner of my childhood yard, my fingers red and welted around a chain-link fence, standing in dirt and weeds with my good jeans on, watching the distance for any car turning and hoping there was family in it. Eventually there would be, cousins and grandparents, arms full of casserole and pie, the Arizona sun keeping it all too warm across miles of lap-laden backseats. Then the men would huddle in the living room, full of canned beer and sports talk, the women drinking wine in the kitchen, and the stereotypes were happy. The kids were in the back room, playing card games and listening to too much Shaun Cassidy.
By the time the menfolk carved the turkey, most everyone was a few Thanksgiving drinks in, this being both an acknowledgment of the holiday and the loosening of any liquor laws that may have otherwise been observed. And yet, holiday or not, the lessening of edges usually brings along the loosening of tongues, and the politics that go with it.
I was oblivious at the time, knee-deep in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and tirelessly appropriating native cultures into celebratory arts and crafts, as one does. Then some relative would allow the children a sip of said Thanksgiving drinks, send us to the kids’ table, and carry on without us. The meal was always perfect.
Funny enough, as I’ve grown older I have become increasingly wishy-washy on the meaning of it all, and far more of a blockhead with regard to what I know is right. I used to wonder where Charlie Brown’s family was, and who the hell eats popcorn and toast for Thanksgiving? These days I don’t eat meat and the Peanuts menu doesn’t sound half bad. Most of my family is in Arizona, what’s left of them, and we’re taking a vacation in the opposite direction, choosing sand over leftover sandwiches.
Thanksgiving has changed for my family. Time is the main culprit, putting loss and the distance between us. Yet, I would love nothing more than to have one like we used to, good jeans and Thanksgiving drinks, and too much Shaun Cassidy (but with far fewer stereotypes). However, now that I’m on the parenting side of the table, we would need to have some talks about the liquor laws.
For instance, does it send a mixed message to kids when adults allow them a sip of their Thanksgiving drinks? Is it okay to break some laws and not others? Does a taste keep kids from wanting alcohol or start them on the road to wanting more?
Sure, it may not be the most comfortable talk around the Thanksgiving table, but it sure as hell beats politics.
Wah, wah wah wah.
Do you allow your kids to sip alcohol? Why or why not?
Also, I can’t write a Thanksgiving post without including this, one of the funniest scenes ever made for television:
Want to know more about Thanksgiving drinks and letting kids sip them? This handy infographic*, courtesy of Responsibility.org, breaks it down by the numbers:
*We know that dads aren’t reflected in the data. Save your letters.
This post is in partnership with Responsibility.org and the #TalkEarly campaign. Our collective mission is to eliminate drunk driving and speak to kids about underage drinking; also to promote responsible decision-making regarding the consumption of alcohol. It is a good cause, and while I am compensated as a #TalkEarly Ambassador, my opinions remain my own.
Please learn more about Responsibility.org and #TalkEarly by connecting on social media:
Whit Honea is the co-founder of Dads 4 Change and the Social Media Director/Community Manager of Dad 2.0 Summit. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy (and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable), he is a regular contributor to The Modern Dads Podcast and the author of The Parents’ Phrase Book—a family guide to empathy.