Whoa, it’s that time again. Can I offer you a glass of eggnog? Perhaps a beer?
‘Tis the season for sanctioned and understandable jolliness, cordial and well-meaning embarrassing behavior– at home, at the office, at the in-laws, in front of that cute check-out girl at the convenience store, and everybody you bump into because it’s Ok.
Merry, merry! Bottoms up!
The fact is that when it comes to consuming alcoholic beverages, our culture is best characterized as being one of gleeful celebration. Unlike most countries where alcohol is enjoyed regularly, be it a beer at lunch or wine for dinner, Americans tend to justify or rationalize their alcohol consumption by tying it to an event, an occasion, or a holiday.
Friday night is an excellent time to throw back a couple—the end of the work week. Saturday night is our national party night, but don’t forget to pick up enough beer for Sunday’s big game. We drink at weddings and wakes, birthdays and holidays—especially holidays.
There our twelve months in a calendar year, and at least that many recognized drinking holidays. We begin and end each year with New Year’s Eve and Day, both big drinking holidays. The biggest beer drinking day of the year is the national holiday known as “Super Bowl Sunday,” which is followed immediately by the day that holds the perennial record for highest absenteeism from work. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, even Cinco de Mayo are all days we’re “allowed” to drink. And then, there are the other holidays when we are actually encouraged and expected to have a few.
On Memorial Day we celebrate the start of summer. The 4th of July has become synonymous with beer and barbecues. Labor Day is a time to mourn the end of summer and sooth that pain with a few well deserved cocktails. Thanksgiving, followed by the five weeks of Christmas constitute a heavy drinking period with office parties, family gatherings, and the onset of winter (always a good reason to take a drink).
And then there are the myriad special occasions, most of them associated with sports, such as March Madness, the Kentucky Derby, the Indie 500, all-star games, playoffs, and championship series, all of which call for a drink or two.
Of course, the problem with many of these is not just that they call for a drink or two, but that they are often associated specifically with getting wildly drunk. Have you ever met anyone who celebrates St. Patrick’s Day whose intention was other than getting smashed?
So here we are, once again, at the height of the holiday season, the height of the drunk driving season, and the absolute pinnacle of the season for intakes at detoxes and rehabs from sea to shining sea.
So, happy holiday, neighbor, and as the beer and liquor companies are so fond of saying, “Drink responsibly.”