Hump Day: Early Christmas displays can be helpful to Poppy Campaign

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

We’re at that time again where nonsense takes over common sense and logic. Yup, it’s that time of the year when people start squawking that anything remotely Christmas-like is an affront to veterans by taking away attention from Remembrance Day. Pure silliness, I say.

As for my own squawking, I squawked about this last year at around this time and I’m doing it again. With the retail season ramping up for the holidays, the industry’s most profitable time of year, it seems only logical, at least to me, to get people in the Christmas spirit early so that they dig deep into their pockets and put as much money as possible into those poppy collection boxes.

I know that for me, I always feel much more generous around the holidays. That’s why it’s the most lucrative fundraising time of the year. People’s hearts are open. Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men (and women, of course) — and all that mushy stuff. I know that if I were one of those volunteers sitting there passing out poppies, I’d be praying for as much Christmas atmosphere around me as possible.

If we as a society donate more during the holidays, wouldn’t it benefit the veterans to raise money in a holiday atmosphere rather than the drab, cold, generic, sad, melancholic atmosphere of early November when the chilly temperatures kick in and the beauty of the fall has fallen away to nothing but a bunch of dead leaves on the ground?

The clocks turned back one hour last weekend. The extra hour of sleep may benefit some, but all it did was make me wake up an hour earlier. My internal alarm now goes off at 5 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. Oh boy. What a great joy that is. I’m unable to fall back asleep, so I just linger there in bed listening to the radio while trying to decide whether or not to get up to feed the squawking cats. (I really need to look up synonyms for squawking, don’t I?)

poppy - lest we forgetIt gets dark so early now. I’m hav­ing a hard time adjusting to that, even though it’s just been a few days. I’m getting my winter tires installed on Saturday. There’s that cold snap in the air. Winter’s on its way. What would help to put a spring in my step, quite frankly, would be a bit of early holiday atmosphere on houses and in stores.

But no! If you do that, you’re branded a hater of veterans! God help a retail establishment that decorates a bit early. The letters to the editor start. The online updates are shared across Facebook making people feel evil for wanting a little bit of holiday bright lights in their lives as the dark days of winter approach at lightning speed.

Rubbish, I say! Rubbish! Let’s brighten up this dark and increasingly dreary time of year with some bright lights and music! Let’s raise as much money for the Poppy Campaign as we can by creating a money-giving festive atmosphere. While I realize the sentiment of waiting to decorate at the retail level until after Christmas comes from a caring place, I’m not sure we’re doing anyone any favours — veterans or retailers.

I’m telling you, get those Christmas carols going in the stores now and people will be donating a lot more for poppies. It’s common wisdom that the holiday season is the best time of year to raise money. If that’s the case, wouldn’t we be doing a favour for the Poppy Campaign by helping it along by creating the most fundraising-friendly atmosphere possible?

Now, that doesn’t mean Remembrance Day isn’t a solemn affair. Don’t get me wrong. Remembrance Day and Veterans Week are a time to honour those who fought and died for our freedom. These people ran into the gunfire. They didn’t run away. They didn’t stay home and cower in fear or indifference. They hiked up their socks and marched into battle and never looked back.

Many of them never returned home and many of those who did suffered terrible injuries. Even those who didn’t suffer visible injuries saw things that no human should ever see. My maternal grandfather fought in the First World War and had occasional nightmares about it well into his 80s.

There’s a time and a place for everything, which is exactly the argument some people use to hold off on the decorating until after Remembrance Day. I’m of the opinion that people can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think we can do both. And, in fact, those collecting money for poppies would raise a lot more money if some weren’t so picky and adamant about ensuring that holiday season baubles and all things shiny remain in their boxes until Nov. 12.

The Poppy Campaign is “in market,” so to speak, from the last Friday in October until 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day. If I were someone who wanted them to raise as money as possible I’d want to maximize he atmosphere of generosity and that means cranking up the retail festive décor and the Christmas music in the stores.

It may drive some of you nuts, as I’m sure it will, but if you care about veterans raising as much money as possible, I’m not so sure we’re doing them any favours by keeping things dark and dreary in the stores until Nov. 12 out of a sense that we’re helping. It may be well intended, but I’m not convinced it’s effective. People dig deeper into their pockets at Christmas. Let’s not push it away and think we’re helping.

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