Hump Day: Celebrate Christmas as you wish, but respect veterans first

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

This is a call for public calm because what I’m about to tell you may cause widespread fainting, screams, exploding heads and instantaneous diaper rash on full-grown adults – not to mention acne that would kill an elephant.

By tomorrow night at the latest in the readership area of this fine newspaper, there will be more than one Christmas tree up and decorated in a household window. Just drive around any neighbourhood and you’ ll likely find at least one tell-tale large twinkling triangle poking its head up over a window sill. Some will keep the curtains closed for fear of public judgment. Others will keep their curtains open while bravely standing up to the public scorn that will befall them for getting ready so early for the holidays.

My own tree doesn’t go up until mid-December — partly because of laziness and partly because it would be naked by Christmas Day with two cats who like to swat off the ornaments despite my vigilance in keeping them away from the tree. No matter how careful I am, the people who clean my house every week always find a tree decoration tucked away under a sofa in July — something swatted off the tree way back in December.

So, to save my sanity and the glass decorations I prefer to hang instead of those fake plastic ones, I don’t bother putting up a tree until mid-December, which seems perfectly reasonable – even quite late. Christmas music, however, is another story, since I start listening to Jingle Bells and all those other seasonal ditties disgustingly early in the year. I won’t even tell you how early. You don’t want to know. Trust me. I’m a sick man.

Now, with the early arrival of the Christmas tree for some, they will most certainly be on the receiving end of wrath from those who somehow believe that putting up Christmas decorations before Remembrance Day means you despise veterans.

Personally, I fail to see the connection between someone who puts up decorations before Nov. 12 and the type of person who walks around veterans’ retirement homes snuffing out old soldiers by smothering them with pillows and unplugging respirators. Nor do I understand how decorating early for a happy religious holiday somehow takes away from the solemnity of Remembrance Day.

Now, with that said, I wouldn’t recommend going caroling on Remembrance Day evening or having a big Christmas party. Yes, doing something overtly Christmassy on that day may be seen as a bit much. Perhaps the lights in the tree (if you have one up that early) should remain unlit on Nov. 11, too, as a sign of respect.

And an organization holding a public event on Remembrance Day that isn’t veterans-related? Can you be any more insulting and disrespectful? I’m not sure.

I already have my poppy, one of many I’ll buy because I keep losing them, and will wear it with pride in memory of all those who died for our freedom, even the freedom to put up a Christmas tree early.

If you spend any time online, well-meaning people are already spreading graphics with messages that it’s somehow disrespectful toward veterans to decorate for Christmas before Nov. 11. Pure sil­liness is all that is. Now, not many people decorate that early anyway, so it’s not exactly a rampant problem. Basically, it’s a personal decision. And yeah, I’ll admit that it’s way too early, even for me. But really to start pointing at these individuals and accusing them of being disrespectful to veterans is nonsense.

Nov. 11 is a very solemn day. I see a lot of well-earned reverence in the community toward our veterans. Many of us stop at 11 a.m. for a moment of silence. We watch the ceremonies on television or listen on the radio or even attend in person. After the ceremonies are over, some may even go out for few drinks at the Legion.

The area Legions don’t exactly shut down their bars on Remembrance Day, do they? If you can have a few (or more than a few) drinks on Remembrance Day and not be considered to be a veteran-hater, then surely putting up a Christmas tree isn’t so awful after all, is it? No, because the two issues are unrelated.

I think we should all take a step back and keep Remembrance Day a solemn day to honour those who fought and died for our freedom. It’s not a day for public festivals, grand openings or other events. Surely, the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who served in the military and all those who died can have one day, at least. Yes, absolutely. That’s the least we can do.

In a perfect world, we’d remember every day, and many of us do. I remember my grandfather’s duty in the First World War all the time. But did our veterans serve and die so that we would sit around depressed and dressed in black all the time? I hope not. Showing joy in the days and weeks before and after Nov. 11 isn’t a deadly sin, nor should we be made to feel guilty when doing so.

Given that, the day itself is a solemn one and needs to be revered. It’s our duty as Canadians. In fact, veterans should be honoured yearround with our respect by remembering them, providing them (and their families) with the services they need and deserve and by keeping our current armed forces well trained and well equipped.

Surely our respect for veterans runs deep enough to survive an early artificial Christmas tree or two.

One Response to Hump Day: Celebrate Christmas as you wish, but respect veterans first

  1. Pam Goold says:

    Very nicely done Brian. You hit it right on. I think of veterans and my ancestors involvement in past conflicts often, throughout the year, not just on November 11th. I hope people read and take note of what you are actually saying.