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What’s next: An outlook on a post-grad holiday season

2016 has been a memorable year; I graduated from college, landed my first job and turned 21 (well, actually at the end of 2015). This will be the first holiday season I spend with my family as an adult over the legal drinking age. I expect to hear a lot of “are you old enough to have that?” regarding alcoholic beverages.

So far, being 21 has been an experience. It feels a little bit awkward drinking around people who once changed my diaper. I never really know if I can order alcohol, or if my dad will shoot me a piercing look before I finish telling the waiter whether I want sugar or salt on the rim. I still vividly remember the first time I ordered alcohol around my family. Silence was followed by giggling replies of, “How do you know what that is?”

But the more I think about it, the more I appreciate my family’s jokes and hyper-awareness that I’m still young. Even though I can now legally drink, they know their job isn’t over, and I still need to learn and practice responsible drinking.

“Just because you went to college and are 21-years-old, don’t think we won’t tell you when you need to slow down.” It’s a humbling reminder that you’re never too old to learn something from Mom and Dad.

My family doesn’t just tell me to be responsible—they have been modelling responsible drinking habits since before I even knew what alcohol was. Sure, I’ve seen family members drink, but I’ve never seen anyone overtly drunk. And if someone did have a little too much, they acknowledged it and put the drink down. And designated drivers, especially, limited their consumption and ordered non-alcoholic drinks like iced tea. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, for the entirety of those 20 years leading up to my 21st, I was learning from my family’s positive examples.

Every day, and especially during the holiday season, I will be sure to drink responsibly and plan for a safe ride home. I will put the values my family has shown me into action and demonstrate that their message has been received.

I might be the newest edition to the “the adult eggnog is in the back of the refrigerator on the top shelf” club, but to my little cousins, I will be a role model they can look up to.

This holiday season, when my uncle asks if I want something to drink, my response will be, “Yes. And yes Auntie I’m old enough to have that. But don’t worry, mom, I won’t have too much!”

Derrick Edwards joined the Responsibility.org team as a Communications Associate in the Summer of 2016. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication, with a focus in Advertising, from Towson University.

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