We live in a world that dances to a liquid soundtrack of alcohol, and it’s a beautiful if bitter sweet song ruined occasionally by a harshly discordant note that sounds a lot like someone falling head-first off a table, or projectile vomiting up the side of a completely defenceless building.
Alcohol has the power to make life memorable, which is not always a good thing, but explains why our celebrations are so steeped in it. There is, quite simply, nothing we wont celebrate with a drink. We toast life, we toast death, marriage and birth, farewells and returns. Just as when we suffer we drink to forget, when emotions run high in the other direction, we drink to remember and the same thing that will make you forget your own mother in large enough quantities is used to lubricate that joy. This lubricant will probably be champagne, the world drink of celebration and I guess by proxy what happiness tastes like. We’ve even made it a part of our very own coming of age; Voting, Consent, Driving and Drinking, the ages at which we can legally use the four most useful things in the world; wheels, political choice, a nice cold beer, and our own penis/vagina.
Some occasions are particularly soaked in alcohol and occasionally just as flammable. Prior to the wedding that we will undoubtedly celebrate with a drink, we embark on one of the most hedonistic nights of our lives where we ritually say goodbye to the us that was and welcome in the us that will be, all to the sound of snapping G strings, the smell of some kind of bronzing agent and the taste of alcohol; lots and lots of alcohol. At Christmas we put brandy in the butter and drink beverages that taste like the holidays themselves; be it nog, or mulled wine. Personally I’m amazed a drinks brand with a particularly duplicitous marketing department hasn’t come up with a tenuous link to Mothers day or Valentines in the way Baileys Irish Cream has wormed its way so successfully into Christmas. Perhaps in the future these other days will taste of Chartreuse or, god forbid, Sambuca, who knows.
Nothing however compares to New Year. New Years Eve has grown to become a booze fuelled celebration dedicated to memory; to remembering those past, lost or forgotten, to mark the the end of another year with hope for the next while we raise a cup of kindness to the lilting melody of Auld Lang Syne, probably singing the same verse over and over again because no one has taken the time to look up the second verse on Wikipedia or ironically have once again forgot it.
What it all comes down to is liquid punctuation. The drinking isn’t the occasion itself, just a handy excuse. It doesn’t form the backbone, but can cap it off beautifully like a drinkable full stop. It can add a moment of drama in the form of a raised glass, help us pause for a moment and take stock like a handy comma, pose a question or hashtag a shared memory communally forever.
Whatever, wherever or whoever we want to remember we can do it just as well if not better with a glass in hand and sometimes we owe it to them to do just that.
Which only leaves me to pour a glass myself and toast a happy Christmas and a magical New year to all of you, you’ve earned it I’m sure.
Here’s to you.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup,
And surely I’ll buy mine
And we’ll take a cup of kindess yet, for auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear. For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet. For auld lang syne.