Doing Dry January? Great… just don’t tell me about it!

Is it just me or does anyone else roll their eyes when halfway through the gorge-fest that comes with the Christmas season, some bore decides to announce how they’re going to reinvent themselves and do Dry January?

I can’t open my Facebook account, flick through a newspaper, a magazine, or even read an article online without being bombarded by some ‘new year, new me’ do-gooder swamping me with tips on how to ‘reinvent’ myself and ‘reduce’ my alcohol consumption!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slagging off anyone who abstains from drinking alcohol, not in the slightest – each to their own! I’m all for practising healthy eating and healthy living, but it seems everywhere I turn these days, I manage to bump into some Dry January drag who’s droning on and on about how fantastic it is to be ‘sober curious’ and how they’re ‘living in the moment’ since they’ve taken up ‘mindful drinking’. Boring buzz-kills!

I’m someone who drinks in moderation, therefore I tend to get annoyed when some abstemious, puritanical, I-drink-five-litres-of-purified-water-a-day geek peppers my social media feed with their new-found, I-feel-so-liberated codswallop! I’m no medical professional, but isn’t there a danger these crusaders could become dehydrated, or worse, mind-numbingly tedious?

I mean, let’s call a spade a spade here: the real reason these virtue-signalling, holier-than-thou, yoga-posers are doing Dry January is all down to the amount of clicks it brings them on their ‘socials’. Am I right? You know I am!

It’s my opinion that Dry January has got nothing whatsoever to do with people wishing to better their health or their lives! Nay, nay folks! Dry January is all about glory-hunters wishing to shame the rest of us into giving up the odd tipple, or the once-in-a-blue-moon family-sized bag of Tayto, or to think twice about ordering that extra portion of curried chips from the takeaway.

As far as I’m concerned, January has got to be the longest and most depressing, upsetting month of the entire year. Our homes look bare because we’ve taken down the cheery Christmas decorations, and we’ve got to pay our massive yuletide energy bills. Oh and this Sunday sees the return of RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars, a series which is definitely a lot more palatable when watched while consuming a large alcoholic beverage or three! In fact, as Doireann Garrihy (a ‘comedian’ who assaulted our intelligence with her ridiculously unfunny ‘The Full Irish Hidden Camera Show’) has been announced as Jennifer Zamparelli’s sidekick, I imagine I’ll be needing ‘Freshers’ Week’ amounts of alcohol if I’m to get through it!

Look folks, if batch-cooking a month’s supply of asparagus whilst simultaneously sucking on a lemon is what floats your boat, then good for you. If you want to run a marathon a week or binge-read a shedload of self-help tomes, you go for it. I won’t stand in your way. And if you want to do Dry January, that’s great… just don’t tell me about it!

On a personal note, given that I’ve had an awful year, I’ve decided that rather than giving up ‘stuff’ in 2023, I’m going to take up a few new vices and try to live a little. I’m going to begin my new quest by showing myself a bit of compassion and self-care. And if, on the odd occasion, I get a sudden urge to engage in a ‘fun-run’, I’ll just slip on my runners and jog to the local off-licence!

Yes, transgender issues should be part of the primary curriculum

I find myself agreeing with Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman when he says ‘transgender issues should be part of the primary curriculum’.

We all remember how back in 2015, as set out in the Gender Recognition Act, trans people in Ireland were able to apply to have their preferred gender legally recognised by the State – and rightly so. However, as being transgender is still sadly considered an exception in this country, it’s a fact that many backward-thinking folk simply brush the topic under the rug rather than fully addressing it while children are young and curious.

As far as I’m concerned, gender is not just about the specification of being either male or female, it’s also a form of self-expression; a feeling which comes from knowing who we are deep down inside of ourselves. For me, and for many others, our gender aligns with whatever the midwife announced at our birth (i.e. in my case, “it’s a girl”, meaning I’m a cisgender woman). However, for many it doesn’t, and sadly, even if it’s contradictory to what they know and feel about themselves, many transgender people are heartbreakingly being forced into living with the gender they were assigned when they were born, even putting on fake performances and often experiencing emotional distress because of it. This situation can lead to all sorts of issues, including anxiety around body changes, a feeling of hopelessness, social isolation, and in many cases, self-harm.

It’s for all of these reasons and many more that I not only agree with Roderic O’Gorman, I also applaud him for declaring that his department, and the Department of Social Protection, are working on ‘policies on whether children under the age of sixteen should be able to declare their gender identity’.

Mind you (I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again), dialogue and education begins in the home, which is why parents should be chatting to their children before they reach school-going age about gender diversity and inclusion. Kids are clever, and in my experience, if you ignore a topic or a question they’ll automatically assume it’s ‘bad’. By steering clear or completely omitting the subject of transgenderism from our kids’ lives, we, as parents and grandparents, run the risk of teaching them there’s something wrong, bad or unacceptable about gender diversity.

For what it’s worth, my own approach as a parent/grandparent has always been to talk about gender with children when they’re young, because I see it not just as being a positive way to support the transgender community, but also as a way to create belonging as opposed to ‘othering’. The difference? When we create belonging, we make the world a safer, more inclusive place for our kids to grow up in. When we create ‘othering’ we nurture an environment ripe for bullying, hatred and exclusion.

Bouncing back means more than boosting our immune systems with antibodies

The past few years of living through a pandemic has left our country and our HSE with the grim and complex legacy of continuing Covid infections and a surge in flu cases. Due to restrictions, we’re told that children are experiencing developmental issues, having been deprived of a number of basic human and social experiences, and of course thousands of families are dealing with the effects of bereavement, loneliness, and fear.

As a result of businesses closing and subsequent job losses, many of us are still experiencing intense financial hardship, meaning that recovery and ‘bouncing back’ is definitely going to be more than about getting vaccinated and boosting our immune systems with antibodies.

All of the above tells me that though a return to life as we know it (or knew it) is welcome, nothing will ever mask the emotional toll this pervasive plague has had on us all, both as individuals and as a society.

It’s with that sentiment in mind that I’d like to wish my readers lots of love, light and laughter in 2023. I hope this year is filled with adventure, growth and possibilities for every single one of us.  I’d also like to add a special greeting to lovely reader Helena and thank her for her Christmas card and her letters. Onwards and upwards folks!