We have to admit that it is nice to have the Fourth of July occur around a weekend to make it a long and festive summer event.
Sure, we have a lot of Monday holidays, but none of them are in the summertime. Memorial Day (along the Mass. coastline) is only a 50/50 proposition for good weather, but a Fourth of July long weekend is almost guaranteed to be summery for most of it.
But as is the case with just about everything in life, there can be a downside to even the best of times. A long holiday weekend is an open invitation to too many of us, or our friends or family members, to overindulge in some of the things that we should enjoy only in moderation.
It is not a coincidence that tragic accidents skyrocket on long holiday weekends because we engage in silly activities (such as fireworks) or do not supervise our children as closely as we usually do (especially near the water) or partake of too much alcohol. The “party atmosphere” that is all-pervasive seems to put too many of us in a mindset that we can indulge more than usual without any consequences.
And we are not speaking solely about drinking while driving or drinking while boating. All too often individuals feel that if they are not driving, then they can drink to whatever extent they want. But the reality is that excessive drinking is dangerous all by itself.
We once played basketball with a young man in his early 20s who was a tall, good looking, athletic guy. But while at a Fourth of July party, he had too much to drink and fell on a staircase (it was in an antique house so the steps were narrower than they modern stairs). He fractured a vertebrae and has been a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, for the past 20 years.
How often we have wondered how life might have been different for our former basketball buddy if he had not had that last beer or two that put him “over the top,” so to speak.
In addition to taking care of ourselves, it also is our responsibility to watch out for our friends and family members whom we might observe partying a bit excessively. None of us would want to live with the guilt of knowing that if only we had intervened, we might have been able to prevent a tragedy.
Most of us think that those “One Day at a Time” bumper stickers are not meant for us, but apply only to those who have some sort of a problem. While it may be true that for some people an issue may be more acute than it might be for others, the reality is that every day is “one day at a time” for each one of us. And that is especially true on a long Fourth of July weekend.
We wish all of our readers a happy, and safe, Fourth of July.