We Americans have a long, erratic history with alcohol ever since the Puritans arrived on the Mayflower, toting more beer than water.
Soon after their arrival, our nation's first laws against drunkenness were enacted. Responsible consumption of beer, wine and liquor has been pretty much the norm ever since, if you overlook the occasional successes of a sporadic temperance movement or those 13 years of federally mandated prohibition from the last century.
You may have alcohol-related stories in your family. I know that my Danish grandparents grew their own grapes in Iowa and made their own wine during those prohibition years. My mother helped bottle it. My grandfather may have made his own beer, too. I know he had a fondness for beer, the cheaper the better.
The other side of my family was quite the opposite. They were devout teetotalers. I've never known my parents to drink, except for a very short period when they tried sipping wine after reading that it was good for their health.
My wife was brought up in a family where even children enjoyed a cordial glass of wine with a good meal, a tradition we've passed on to our own children. Living a few years in California wine country nurtured our appreciation for that region's wines and served as a magnet for visitors during our time there.
Our familial attitude toward alcohol is fairly typical, I think. We applaud the trend of producing local micro brews, thoroughly enjoy the renaissance of the Iowa wine industry, are grateful for the folks who resurrected Templeton Rye and will never understand "light beer."
Generally speaking, alcohol consumption has been a plus in our family history. That's not the case in some families, who have been devastated by the effects of alcohol abuse. Help is available from the National Institutes of Health.
The best thing we can all do is to serve as good examples for future generations in our own families.
Flickr photo courtesy of psunmsp.