The idea for this diatribe was hatched at a holiday party. Several of them, in fact. Besides the great food, the good feelings and the excellent beverages that are all hallmarks of holiday gatherings, there is also another aspect of those affairs enjoyed by those of us who are inveterate stoop-sitters at every other time of year: people watching.

No, I don’t mean the people watching activity during which we make judgments about those who have caught our attention. That’s tacky. Okay, so we all do it, but it is tacky and not fair to our “victim.” They don’t even know we are forever condemning them in our memory bank as that lady who could not have checked herself in a mirror before leaving the house, or the guy who simply can’t resist double-dipping in the queso and salsa, or the child, obviously without any parental supervision, tasting all the sugar treats, but not finishing any piece and putting them back onto the serving dish, branded by teeth marks.

Yes, we are reaching conclusions about these folks but there may be a perfectly logical reason why they act the way they do. For their sake, I hope that’s true. Any other explanation is gross and unacceptable in polite society. 

Which bring us to us.

Holiday parties are a chance for all of us to loosen up, let the hair down, dance like no one is watching, and keep smiling that foolish grin brought on by cheap gin, all the while with a bit of spinach cheese dip firmly attached to an upper front tooth at the gum line.

You cannot make this stuff up because each and every one of us knows that it is true.  

I think it’s a fair statement that the Holidays are all about the social aspects of the season. Seeing people we have not seen in awhile. Likely drinking or eating a bit over our normal capacities. Staying out later in the evenings and going out on more evenings than our usual and long-standing routine experiences. Often, it’s not about what we do, but how often we do it and how much of it we do, at what level of intensity.

The frenzy of the season puts pressure on our inner clock and we know the whole darn thing is completely out of our control. Well, it is. And how we react can have a lot to do with how we feel and whether come January we have any friends left at all.

My approach today, and most days during this and the next season of excess, is to relax. Control is not what we have; rather, we have, in some of our minds, chaos and dysfunction. The holidays are liberating, if they are appreciated and experienced at that level. We have no desire or need to wear our usual masks of mature, sensible, logical adults. But we are not off the hook to continue to be card-carrying members of polite society.

It may be that the music being played is irritating. You have two choices in this area: suck it up or leave. Approaching the orchestra or the DJ and requesting/demanding that they change the repertoire or play a particular song to suit your tastes is considered gauche and socially unacceptable.

When you head to the party’s host and wonder if there is anything different to eat besides what’s being set out on the table is considered bad manners in most every country in the world.

And cornering the host requesting a different wine or spirit instead of what they have provided is the height of gall.

As for the cocktails, if the bartender has the ingredients you desire, and the drinks are not being made as you wish, politely suggest that the recipe be changed to your taste. No demands. Only requests. The difference is that in a request, the stated goal is always preceded by “please.”

Along those lines for the menu and the cocktails, you do not want to be the guy that says out loud, “they are doing it all wrong.”

In other words, if you are the person who lives by the words, “Life is too short to drink cheap wine,” tuck that thought away during the Holidays and go with the flow.

Yes, you are losing control but you are gaining peace.

Best wishes for a safe, happy and enjoyable Holiday Season. We thank you for your patronage of and Happy Hour.




Read Happy Hour here on every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed at