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My dad enjoyed the occasional glass of bourbon; my mom, not so much. A teetotaler but also a child of the Depression, she didn’t like to see alcohol consumed, but could never bring herself to throw it out. She would-however-hide it. Dad gradually started keeping a bottle in the barn. At holiday gatherings, he’d ‘go out to check on the cows’. As my sisters and I got older, we’d help him check on the cows. Somehow, Mom never grew suspicious of this sudden bovine interest.
If she had, the holiday would have been decidedly less pleasant. Mom thought beverage alcohol was the first step on the road to Hades, and was unafraid to say so. But according to a recent National Geographic article, humans should treasure our tolerance for alcohol: without it, the human race might not have survived.
Approximately ten million years ago, humans developed digestive enzymes that allowed us to metabolize alcohol (in limited amounts) without becoming ill. This allowed us to eat rotting fruit and other foodstuffs that may-according to the National Geographic study-have prevented us from starvation and extinction. Eventually, we grew to enjoy alcohol’s intoxicating effects,learned to make it consciously, and the rest is history. But when I settle down with a glass of wine at the end of a long day, I’m not thinking of starvation and survival.
For me, the pleasure inherent in a glass of wine is all about how evocative it is. A great glass of wine is an opportunity to travel through time and space-without leaving the comfort of your couch. A sip of Chianti and I’m on vacation with old friends. A glass of Sancerre is a summer night under our now-vanished old oak tree. Champagne….Champagne is-always, purely, simply-joy. And all of these are an opportunity to relax and take a tiny mental vacation.
As we enter the crazy home stretch of the holiday season, may you find relaxation and joy, old friends and sweet memories-whether in a glass or elsewhere. Breathe out. Ahhhh.