Last week's election results had a lot to do with it. Disbelief, confirmation, trembling and euphoria are sweeping the land. Politics is discussed in all sorts of places: at work it is about politics during breaks, in school classes teachers challenge their students to discussion, in my family there are strong conversations. I'm not going to make a political speech here, there are other forums for that, so I'm not going to comment on anything substantive.
I grew up in a family where politics was an extensive topic of conversation at birthdays. The uncles sat together and verbally fought each other's opinions. Their generation had grown up in war and politically aware. In addition to pretzels, there were also glasses with cigarettes and cigars on the table. The smoke from the burning tobacco rolls filled our living room. Nobody cared about that then. And they also drank: sherry, port, wine and gin. I don't think it's ever soft drinks. One uncle kept the gin bottle on the floor next to him so he could pour himself as often as he wanted. Under the influence of the drink the discussions became fiercer and fiercer and from experience my brothers, sisters and I knew which uncle invariably ended up as pissing. The aunts sat across the room and talked about more mundane things. How you kept a large family going, for example, and whether all those children still behaved a bit. With the help of a sherry or a lawyer with whipped cream, the mood became more and more cheerful. I can still hear the exuberant laughter of my aunts.
So my generation, the children of all those uncles and aunts, grew up with the example of drinking when you are together. That's nice and cozy and just part of it. And if, as in my family, there is a predisposition to melancholy and gloom, alcohol has a pleasant side effect. With a glass, life becomes a lot lighter and more bearable. We know that about ourselves and each other. So we toast again, say that booze connects us and we wonder what we should do without alcohol. I've often taken part in that myself and hid behind those arguments. "Because that's how we are together." Nowadays, the cousins still see each other – unfortunately – often at funerals and there too the drink always flows freely.
More and more often – of course afterwards – I think about whether this is what I want. My dear husband, who occasionally has a beer, will never stop me from drinking, but can sometimes very subtly ask how I feel after such an alcoholic evening. Small pinpricks, I can find out for myself whether and how I do something with them. And I notice that I am turning very slowly. The concern for my health plays a role in this, although the soothing effect of drink continues to beckon.
Choosing these days is not only about politics but also about the person closest to me: myself. I vote socially, but choose me in this regard.