The Drinking Holidays
I had meant to write an essay last Tuesday, but it was St. Patrick's Day, and other things happened instead. It did get me thinking, though, and what I was thinking about was holidays.
First, it occurred to me that here in the United States we can clump our holidays into various groups. One of these would be the drinking holidays. Given our willingness to drink, perhaps it would be easier to examine those holidays which are specifically NOT drinking holidays. Veterans Day, for instance, is not really an occasion for getting drunk. I suppose fellow Vets might raise a glass in honor of fallen comrades, but no one goes to the liquor store and cheerfully suggests that they're buying this case, or that bottle, "for the holiday." Christmas, too, even with egg nog and hot toddies, is too much about kids to be about booze. Similarly, Easter.
On the other hand, Christmas, Easter, and Valentine's Day clearly are about gifts and candy in ways that Labor Day or President's Day never will be. Labor Day CAN be one of the food holidays, though. Admittedly, it's typically grill and picnic sort of food, rather than the kitchen full of smells that we enjoy, nay demand, for Thanksgiving. Have you ever gone out to a restaurant on Thanksgiving? It can be a very quiet experience with a fairly dispirited staff at your service.
Naturally, some people may decide that every Friday is a drinking holiday. Saturdays, too. And I suppose the best way to truly establish which ARE the drinking holidays would be to ask the liquor store clerks and managers. When is it normal for people to make extra purchases because of a particular upcoming holiday? New Year's Eve, certainly.
In our current culture, we might find that the answers include days that aren't even holidays at all. For instance, Super Bowl Sunday generally involves house parties with food and drink. Basketball tournaments and the World Series can, too. Not so much with the Olympics, though. Perhaps because few of us could survive constant drinking for a week or more.
And that got me thinking about the annual nature of most of our holidays. In soccer, the World Cup comes around every four years, like the Olympics. But I couldn't think of anything with a longer term of orbit. I suppose a certain amount of drinking goes on at High School or College Reunions, and many of those are held at five or ten year intervals. But I can't think of anything else.
Of course, there is the once-in-a-lifetime drinking holiday so common to our College campuses, the twenty-first birthday. In my new job I get to meet some of these celebrants, awkwardly dashing themselves at the first day of their legal drinking age. I can see why it's not usually considered a family occasion, but I certainly wish it could be developed into a proper rite of friendship. It's just plain sad to see these kids celebrating either in solitude or to self-destruction, all for the lack of wise companions.
Perhaps that's just the universal challenge of finding and keeping worthwhile friendships, a problem from which there is never a holiday.
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