Cold snaps and hot toddies for the kiddos.


Along with the rest of the country, we’ve had a serious cold snap here in central Texas, with record lows and – surprise! – snowfall that actually accumulated and stuck around for more than 30 minutes.

Now, I was born in Michigan and lived there till I was ten, when we moved to Colorado to live for four years before we ended up in Virginia for my junior high and high school years. Thus, I’m no stranger to cold weather, but living in the Lone Star State for almost 20 years has made me a bit wimpy when it comes to the cold.

When our city called a snow day yesterday (we had a whopping 3/4 inch, folks!), I enjoyed watching my friends’ Facebook updates with pics of their kids rolling about in the snow, many of them for the first time ever. My daughters were at their dad’s house this week, so I had to be content watching Daisy frolic in my powdery backyard.

It made me think about my childhood in Michigan, when my sister and I would get all bundled up to play in the snow, and stay out until we were nearing the early stages of frostbite.  When we came in, my mom would make hot toddies for my sister and me, to warm us up.

For those not familiar with the drink, it’s made of hot tea with lemon and honey and whiskey.

Yes, my mom served me alcohol at the ripe old age of eight.

It wasn’t a one-time thing, either. We got hot toddies on a regular basis during the Michigan winters, and the tradition continued when we moved to Colorado and would go night sledding at a hilly golf course near our house.

When I look back and think about this, I’m appalled. I know that in some cultures, kids enjoy sips of wine and other alcohol at dinner. But we live in America, which has at best a troubled relationship with booze. What’s more, my family has a long and full history of alcoholism: both of my parents and at least one grandparent on each side suffer(ed) from it, along with myriad aunts and uncles and cousins, from what I’ve heard. So it seems to me it wouldn’t be the wisest thing to serve up this sweet concoction to your little ones. No matter how well it worked to warm us up. What was she thinking? Why not hot chocolate?

I don’t blame my mother or my father for my alcoholism, any more than I could blame them for my scrawny legs or poor eyesight. Yet in pondering this and subsequently writing this post, I came to realize that I harbor some resentments around this issue. Obviously I have work to do. And hot chocolate to buy — for my girls and me.

One Response to “Cold snaps and hot toddies for the kiddos.”

  1. I identify with this. While I was never served alcohol directly, it presence was a constant in our home and people looked the other way if they saw a small child sipping from a beer can or wine glass. I realize that several decades ago the research just wasn’t in on addiction and much has been learned over the years, but there are still people today who seem to find it acceptable to serve alcohol to a child. I even hear from clients, “We let our kids drink, but only if we are home with them.” As if the presence of a parent will somehow negate the physiological effects of the alcohol. Totally absurd.

    I, too, harbor resentment over this. And I know that I need to work on that.

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