The question comes up every year. We're entering the holiday season with family parties and celebrations on the rise. It's time to raise our glasses in good cheer. Should we let the kids participate with some sips of wine or beer, and ignore the laws that forbid it?

A random survey in East Contra Costa County indicates that most locals disapprove of kids joining in with the drinking. They feel there are other ways for them to enjoy the festivities. But a handful think that some sips do no harm.

Kenneth Defoe of Brentwood is dead set against giving kids a taste. "Kids can't handle it. Their bodies aren't developed enough and they aren't intellectually able to judge it," he said. "Kids get out of control easily. They don't know enough to stop."

"It's a bad influence and reflects negatively on the parents," chimed in Julie Wetzel of Oakley. "Let the kids enjoy a holiday party with some cider in a wine glass."

Samantha Williams of Oakley said, "Definitely no sips. It opens the door for drinking freedom. They think if it's OK for mom and dad, it's OK for me too. It definitely sets a bad precedent."

Jody Foster of Brentwood draws the line at age 21. "That's the law and there's good reason for it," she said. "In family situations I sometimes see more lenient parents. I try to explain my objections to kids drinking in a friendly way."

Antioch's Melisa Chudy agrees. "Our laws about drinking age make good sense," she said. "I have grown kids and grandkids. I tasted beer as a kid and it shaped my mind about drinking. Letting kids have a sip simply is not proper."

"Don't encourage kids to drink. We already have enough problems with alcohol and drugs," said Janet Gowdy of Oakley.

"Kids have plenty of time to learn to handle drinking when they're adults. If they want to look and act grown up at a family party, give them a Shirley Temple in a wine glass."

Cynthia Billings of Brentwood said, "If they're in high school it's OK, but not before. There's no need for kids to grow up too soon. I never had a sip when I was a kid. But I did once stick my finger in a wine glass. The taste was disgusting."

"I had my first taste of wine when I was 11 years old," said Deante Young of Oakley. "I didn't like it and I'm a non-drinker now. No one in my family is a drinker so alcohol never became an issue. If some families permit it I guess it's OK, but I don't think it's a good idea."

But there are those who think it's fine. "I did it and my kids did it," said Brentwood's Donald Kopps. "Giving kids a special treat gets them involved in the festivities and is a good thing. We've handled it well with no alcohol problems in our family."

Oakley's Bill Kastens agrees, but with reservations. "Just a taste is okay. It makes the kids think they are more a part of the party," he said. "But it should only be a taste and it should be wine not beer. It's healthier. My parents approved and as a kid I got drunk at one party. It was my first and last drunk. I don't drink now."

Contact Ed Arnow at BrentwoodBuzz@aol.com.