I saw a post on Facebook the other day about saving a bottle of single malt scotch whiskey for a special occasion. Thank you Malt Activist for prompting me to write this post. The post immediately made me think of a bottle of whiskey I gave my dad when I was 19. Before I go on, let me say now, drink it for any occasion! Tuesday is a nice day. Now to the story.
The Past Adventures…
I was working in Texas as a roustabout in the oilfield for the summer and the drinking age there was 19 at the time (sorry youngsters 21 now). I hate to say it but it was probably one of my most formative drinking summers of my life. I learned to like BEER and unsweetened iced tea. I already knew I liked whiskey in mixed drinks. Didn’t realize how much I would learn to love it neat. So it was a really good summer. We did a lot of stupid stuff, because at that age we were invulnerable and it was legal (well most of it was). So I figured before I left the state back for Missouri-Rolla, back to two years of not being able to drink legally, I would pick up some booze.
I got my dad a bottle of Crown Royal for his birthday. To me that was one of the best liquors around. I knew he drank whiskey on occasion so it seemed natural to pick up for him. It didn’t hurt that during the summer my fellow roustabout working buddy and I spent many nights drinking .50 cent Crown & Cokes at Grahams Central Station in College Station/Bryan ($5. cover). I don’t even believe Grahams exists there anymore. Back in 1983 Crown was one of the best available to us. What would I know of quality liquor anyway. I was 19 and had never explored the vast landscape of different whiskeys or even beer for that matter. The choices were far fewer then also. We would have never conceived on how small the world has gotten today during that summer of sun and sweat.
My dad was not much of a drinker. He would have the occasional beer or have a drink of Jim Beam at a Shrine/Lodge event. He drank at social events mostly and rarely. I knew that but liquor was still really new to me and didn’t really think it that inappropriate to give to him. He put is up in the cabinet above the refrigerator where all the liquor goes in the house. There it sat waiting for a special occasion to be brought out and drank.
Fast forward too many years and there it is still sitting. My parents even built a new house and moved the bottle with them. My brothers had married, well one of them was already married and had a kid when I gave him the bottle. So my other brother had married (twice) and 4 more grandchildren had been born. I had graduated 3 times from Missouri-Rolla and was recently married when my dad discovered he had cancer (around my first wedding anniversary) and within 6 months he was gone from us. It was way too soon.
A couple of months later my mom gave me back the bottle. I didn’t even think it still was around and figured he had already drank it or at least some of it. She told me he was waiting for the right occasion to have it with me. When she gave it to me I couldn’t think of all the great things that had happened over the 15 years since I had given it to him. Times when we should have cracked it open and had a toast. I could only think of the fact that he and I would never share it.
The bottle came home and went into the cabinet above the fridge, where the liquor is stored in a fine Christian home. I figured I would wait for a special occasion, when I felt like celebrating, to crack it open, toast his memory and make new ones with my friends and family. Not that I really liked Crown much anymore, it is okay, but it was a sentimental bottle that had a deeper meaning to me so I would wait to cherish it.
Over the next year we adopted a son, named him after his grandfathers. The light of my life. Started a new business that was/is a grand success. Bought a new house and still the bottle moved with us to a new house and took up residence above the fridge. Other great things occurred over time and other tragic things. Things that should have been celebrated in their accomplishment or in their overcoming.
The bottle sat. Why? It sat in the cabinet because it was a time of non-drinking in my household. What does that mean? I was a very social drinker when I traveled. I traveled probably 25-45% of the time. I developed my taste for finer whiskeys and craft beers during these years. I grew to really enjoy the diversity of options available as I traveled around the country. Yet when I was home, I didn’t drink. I just didn’t care too and my wife was not much of a drinker either. I even stopped homebrewing during this time, this I lament. The liquor above the fridge was trapped behind the boxes of kid cereal. Waiting to be freed for a special occasion of friends visiting and entertaining. Those were infrequent due to my travel schedule. So it sat.
The Current Reality…
My wife was diagnosed with cancer in the mid 2000’s. I don’t really want to get into the ups and downs of that but to say that many a trip and battle with insurance companies and treatments and surgeries and so on later she passed in 2010. Yep a real low point in life. I struggled to maintain who I was but have now went on to discover WHO I AM and get back to some of my individuality. Still I am and always will be heavily influenced by her and our time together, but there were things that I missed and discovered again. Not whiskey or beer because I had drunk a fair amount of those during my travels.
After a while, and cleaning out the different pockets of life around the house that hadn’t been touched for years, I discovered the hidden cache above the fridge. I took it out and placed it in a more accessible cabinet. Still the bottle sat. I would see it and think about drinking it. It just did not feel right to drink without their being some sort of occasion. What could be grand enough now to open this bottle that had been around since I was 19. A returned gift and stored for so long. It was then that I realized that everyday is an occasion.
Two years ago I finally cracked the bottle open. The bottle that had sat in a cabinet for 31 years. I had looked at it too long. I realizing that with all the great things that had happened to me with my dad over the years, and the things that had happened to us after he was gone, and with my wife now being gone, that the bottle was a wish unfulfilled. It would never be realized as long as I was wanting a “Special Enough” occasion. So two years ago I attend a BBQ Grilling competition with some friends who were competing and took the bottle with me for the two-day event. It was a celebration, socializing with friends that I had made in my new existence, enjoying the day, eating good food. It was a great time to celebrate life and living with friends. We didn’t do that great in the BBQ competition, but they are back again this weekend celebrating life and living.
Just so you know I did take a little time by myself to crack open the bottle. Poured myself three shots to commemorate the occasion. One to remember my dad, one for my wife, and one for my future. I then took the bottle back to the BBQ gang and enjoyed the rest of the night (drinking my Balvenie Doublewood neat).
Call to Action…
There are highlights in your life that need celebrating in special ways. Occasions that should be marked with a special treat. Be ready to highlight those with what is special to you. The Laphroig above is a fabulous choice. Just don’t forget to enjoy the everyday. The everyday is special and celebrate it for its success and its tribulations. There are so many things in our lives to celebrate and you should do so.
Enjoy it when you can. No telling when you will be able too, and saving something for a special “enough” occasion just may not come. Every day you have on this planet is special. Embrace your day. Sit Back, Relax and have ABigBeer or fine Single Malt Scotch.
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