While I recognize the artfulness and humor of Amy Stewart's recent column ("Have Yourself a Boozy Little Christmas," Dec. 8), as director of Humboldt County's public health branch, I feel compelled to respond to a few of its more questionable statements.

First, contrary to Stewart's assertion, in many cases a bottle of booze really isn't the perfect gift for a drinker. When I drive past a church near my office with a small crowd milling around between AA meetings, for example, I see people for whom this would be about the worst gift imaginable.

Stewart says buying people gifts of alcohol "shows that you were thinking about them," a message that almost certainly could be conveyed in a healthier manner. She goes on to say that "meaningless gifts are responsible for the sort of lonely, miserable, empty feelings that come over some of us at the holidays and drive us to drink." That could be. But many times drinking is the cause and not the effect of these feelings, and more drinking is a highly unlikely remedy.

When as in this case an editor feels the need to insert a line clarifying that liquor really shouldn't be served to toddlers, I would suggest the column may have crossed a line somewhere. [Actually, Stewart inserted that note herself. -- Ed.] Many people enjoy drinking, but for too many others alcohol consumption is not the lighthearted romp Stewart describes. For them, a boozy Christmas is the holiday that immediately precedes a very unhappy New Year.

Susan Buckley, McKinleyville

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