Up Close With Dr. E

Happy holiday season is here


Today’s article will teach you how to refuse an alcoholic drink during this holiday season. What? Why is this story told today and not five years ago?

There is a growing awareness that good health is much more than the absence of disease. Your desire to live longer has fused with a second desire: to keep one’s quality of life high. QOL has three parts — body, mind and spirit. A healthy body can flex, move and maintain muscle strength. A healthy mind is positive and seeks out new experiences. A healthy spirit anchors you to life, through close relationships to family, friends and faith. 

The word which captures QOL is aliveness.

Before we begin, allow me to say that in no way does today’s column imply that alcohol is the root of all evil. After all, how one finds pleasure is their own business. However, if you have struggled with alcohol or drugs, body weight, stress or anxiety/depression, then today’s topic may help.

Finally, the body odometer can go to 43,800 days (120 years). But, that means you must remove the rust on the chassis, keep high quality social lubricants — friends — in the oil pan and don’t neglect to pump up your tires so you can roar down the road. Ready?

The holidays are here and with them comes that ubiquitous oration, the toast: “Raise your glass, drink to good health, happiness and a long life!”

What? What’s that sound coming around? Hear the rat-a-tat-tat of the drums, the brassy bellows of trombones and the uba uba of the tuba? What’s this delectable spectacle, this bonanza extravaganza, marching down the street?

Come one, come all, to the holiday parade of alcohol.

First comes the floats, an armada of black-sailed boats, with pistol-toting pirates singing, “Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!” Next comes the boys, Johnny (Walker), Jimmy (Beam) and Jack (Daniels), followed by 10 dozen girls, decked out in festive curls and cocktail colors — Pink Lady, White Lady, Claret and Rose, Bloody Mary and hey, ain’t that Sherri?

Take a gander at the brewskies, as they march on by: Bud, Bock, Guinness and Stout, Mickey-Lobe-Lite, Ale, Hinny-Kin and Bottoms Up!

What’s that 50-foot bottle with the worm inside? Oh, it’s from the Gulp of Mexico, Te-Qui-La! (Rombauer, p. 40).

Guzzle, sip, swig or slurp, champagne or no pain, take a nip of whatever floats your boat, because the Holiday Parade of Alcohol is marching down your throat. OK, let’s continue.

How to politely refuse an alcoholic drink during the holidays. 

1. May I get you some rum punch? “No thank you, I was born intoxicated!” (Russell, p. 171).

2. “Sorry, no thanks. It’s like tea for two — I’m pregnant and alcohol goes to my unborn child at the identical levels as the drinking mother.”

3. “Sorry, I’m pregnant. I mean, my wife is pregnant and I’d hate to cause sympathy drinking.”

4. “Sorry, no thanks. I’m not so think as you drunk I am!” (Squire, p. 171).

5. “No thanks, drunkenness spoils health, dismounts the mind and unmans men.” (Penn, p. 171).

6. “No thanks, as you know, alcohol has 70 empty calories per drink and I’m loving my body.”

7. “See this button — DON’T DRINK ME?” (A variation of the button, DON’T FEED ME).

8. “Sorry, I’m the designated driver.”

9. “Sorry, it’s against my doctor’s advice.”

10. “No thanks, I’m having a liver transplant in the morning.”

Conclusion: Alcohol is a food (70 calories per drink), a psychoactive drug (alters feelings) and part of the holidays. For years, I’ve listened to my patients describe their experiences with alcohol. For some, it helped with social anxiety. For others, it eased the pain in their joints. But for many, it was a road they stumbled upon early in life.

For these patients, I always ask: “The first time you got drunk or high, what was it like?” Their answer, “It was the first time I ever felt good.” I then ask, “Before that first high, what kept you from being happy?” Their answer — “I’ve never thought about it.”

Early life for them was full of hardships, loss, trauma, and pain. Which came first — the chicken (alcohol problems) or the egg (early developmental chaos caused by the absence of trust, protection, security, and hope)? 

The content of this article is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for treatment by a professional.


1. “Joy of Cooking,” Irma Rombauer, 1973.

2. “Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations,” George Russell, 2000.

3. “Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations,” John Squire, 2000.

4. “Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations,” William Penn, 2000.


Dr. Richard Elghammer contributes his weekly column to the Journal Review.


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