When my kids were little, this is what Christmas involved…

• Barbies
• Toys requiring LOTS of AA batteries…and noise-canceling headphones
• A reciprocating saw or some other Very Sharp cutting device which is used to extract the toys from their Fort Knox-like packaging.
• Alcohol

Now that my kids are in their 20s, this is what Christmas involves…

It is with great relief that the Iowa Roadie’s family holiday has evolved from the commercial trappings of Nintendo, Talking Elmo and Taylor Swift to focus on drinking games and group shots.

Before proceeding, I’d like to point out that holiday drinking has very deep-seated roots. For example, in the classic movie “A Christmas Story,” have you noticed that the parents are enjoying a glass of wine as they watch their children open presents in the wee morning hours?

We typically wait until after the Christmas Eve service to begin drinking.

This year, our 24-year-old daughter brought home The Boyfriend for Christmas. If there is ever an event that screams “alcohol,” it is that moment when your sweet innocent child brings home The Boyfriend & asks why they have to sleep across the hall from one another.

(Answer: Because it’s MY house.)

Time to CHUG.

Regardless of sleeping arrangements, my daughter & The Boyfriend still gifted me a bottle of Absente for Christmas which was purchased from an “extremely sketchy” liquor store in Ankeny. (As a family that survives on cheap Aldi’s wine & Busch Light, I had to resort to Wikipedia to educate myself on my Christmas present.)

Absente is a green 110% proof anise-flavored liqueur. Fun fact: Absente was illegal in the United States until 2007 because it may cause hallucinations. Absente comes with a fancy slotted silver spoon. Evidently one is supposed to dilute the magical alcohol with water by pouring it over a sugar cube atop the fancy spoon.

Another popular way to serve Absente is the “flaming” method. However mixing high-proof alcohol and fire seems a bit dangerous. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a cocktail that requires safety precautions and a fire extinguisher.

Hence the Iowa Roadie simply took a sip. Here is my verdict.

Absente tastes like black licorice but burns like whiskey.

Also…My tiny sip did not induce hallucinations, nor did it impair my judgment enough to alter sleeping arrangements.

Besides the mind-altering liqueur, the Iowa Roadie served a mulled wine that was made From Scratch. Meaning I had to find a recipe and then add my own spices to the four bottles of Merlot & cup of Brandy simmering in the coffee urn.

These are the spices my recipe called for: whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and anise stars.

For the record, it is extremely difficult to find anise stars in a grocery store in rural Iowa. Had I known I was going to receive anise-flavored alcohol, I could have substituted that instead.

My family also played a rousing game of Left, Center, Right (LCR). This is a simple child’s game which requires passing chips per the directional dice.

I do not need to point out how easy it is to incorporate alcohol into this game.

Now, as the Iowa Roadie reflects on Christmas one week later, I can honestly say that I am blessed.

With family.
With friends.

And with a bottle of alcohol that will be perfect in next year’s mulled wine and result in a Christmas that is mind-blowing & full of the holiday spirits.

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