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I don't drink. It took a long time and some hard knocks to teach me that I just ought not consume alcohol, because my life is better when I don't.

But New Year's Eve is a good time for me to remember that.

It's pretty simple. I know there is nothing I can't make worse by adding alcohol to it. But the idea that one doesn't drink, ever, can be really difficult for people to grasp because drinking is such a huge part of life in these United States.

Big events are easy. I secure a glass of ginger ale or cola as soon as I arrive. When I have something in my hand, there's no reason for anybody to try to put a drink there, and I've never had anybody make a big deal of the fact that I'm abstaining from alcohol.

When I attend a more intimate affair, I bring sparkling cider or juice so I‘m sure there's something I‘ll enjoy.

But at either type of gathering, if the nonalcoholic drinks run out, if the shenanigans of the drinkers get to be a bit much, or if I find myself wanting a drink, I thank my hostess and leave.

Those who drink alcohol can be curious or unsettled in the presence of those who don't. Often people who have a problem with the idea that someone doesn't drink have an alcohol problem of their own. Others may simply be unused to the concept, just as it can take a while for some people to understand that "vegetarian" means not eating flesh at all, not even turkey or fish.

I've tried to assure the people I care about that they needn't worry about drinking in my presence. My alcohol issues are mine, and I don't want anybody else to get caught up in them.

The best way I've found to do that is not to take a drink. And so I will not be having a drink on New Year's Eve. Or, I hope, any other time.

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