In case you’ve been living under a rock (or a Rolling Rock), “Dry January” is a growing phenomenon in the US, years after its inception as a public health initiative in the UK starting in 2014. During the first month of the year, participants in Dry January abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages. Dry January hit an all-time popularity high in 2021, after many participants cited drinking too much during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it becomes ever more popular with each consecutive year.
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I was one of the 13% of Americans participating in Dry January in 2021. I made to January 3rd, when an impromptu playdate with some of the neighbors turned into a wine tasting (on the part of the parents, not the kids) I didn’t have the willpower to pass up. I did manage to keep it dry for the rest of the month with a little help from my spouse, but I’ll be the first to admit that for me, it was a failed experiment, and not one I plan on repeating.
It’s not that I don’t have the willpower to go a month without hitting the bottle (although I didn’t have it that January 3rd). And it’s not that I don’t believe in the power of personal growth through self-denial… I was born Catholic; 40 days of Lent makes Dry January’s 31 days look wimpy by comparison. I didn’t even miss champagne on New Year’s Eve when I was 5 months pregnant with twins, though I did give the alcohol-removed wine a try despite it tasting like the cork from a bottle of real wine.
Ever since COVID turned my office job into a home office job, the demarcation line between work and home has gotten very blurry. One of the ways I draw the line is to leave my office and pour myself a glass of wine while I make dinner. In a way, it’s clocking out of one job only to clock into another, but the dinner-making glass of wine is a way for me to unwind before I have to be on for the bedtime gauntlet. It’s a comforting part of my daily routine that I look forward to after sitting in front of a screen all day.
Does the glass of wine make me a better person? A better mom? No. Would I cease to function without it? Also no. But it’s something I enjoy, and that’s a good-enough reason for me to say no to dry January. Furthermore, January is kind of a crappy month. It’s cold and gray and you’re expected to be productive and stop the napping and cookies that carried you through the last half of December. If a little wine helps to lift me out of the winter doldrums, then Dry January just isn’t for me, and that’s okay.