For our family, the end of February has always meant Galveston Mardi Gras. Every one of us laissez les bons temps  in a different way:  I love huge parades with high-stepping marching bands, Mike likes the beer and soul food, we all enjoy seeing old friends and the eclectic crowds. Nate and Sam come for the candy; the girls love all the beads.

As a kid, all that candy and all those beads meant a party. As a young adult, it was the ubiquitous beer and tall, cold daiquiris that signaled it was time to have fun.

Now I’m happy to leave the Yards of Beer and rainbow-colored daiquiris to the crowds. It’s ironic, but for me, Mardi Gras weekend marks my annual decision to stop drinking.

My reason is health–specifically digestive health. Two years ago, in between Mardi Gras parades, I drank a syrupy-sweet peach daiquiris that was the final nail in the coffin of my relationship with alcohol. The margarita  tasted more like a melted popsicle than anything that ever grew on  a tree. You know the type–an corn-syrup Icee laced with cheap rum.

This was back when I had chronic fatigue and so many foods and drinks hurt my stomach. The daiquiri was gross enough that I might have taken a couple weeks off from drinking. Except this was about the time I learned my sick digestive tract and sick diet were affecting all my systems. Dozens of books and hundreds of articles later, I’m a believer about the evils of refined sugars. Read: the evils of alcohol.

It wasn’t just the medical research that told me guzzling sugar wasn’t good for my health. The occasional glass of wine I drank gave me a headache and those random beers bloated me. My body was telling me it couldn’t hold my liquor. With one bad daiquiri, on Mardi Gras weekend, my twenty -year relationship with alcohol was over.

But sometimes I really miss the fun that comes with drinking. The lightheadedness from downing a cold beer on a hot day, the warmth as a woody merlot spreads through my insides. The buzz of a margarita that drowns out a noisy restaurant–and my own kids’ whining.
So many of my favorite memories–great days at the beach, listening to really good, blaring music, and  long, soulful talks–are all colored with alcohol. Sometimes, when I’ve been TAKING CARE OF ALL THE BUSINESS day in and day out for six straight days, I’m just done. A tall glass of something potent and cold sounds really nice.
As long as it’s not a syrupy sweet peach daiquiri.

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