The Grinches Who Conscripted Remembrance Day

By Jay Menard

Christmas seems to be offending more and more people just by its very existence. And the latest weapon conscripted into the battle is the honour of our veterans.

To that I say Bah Humbug and how dare you.

To start, I’m not religious, but I use the word Christmas. If that offends you, feel free to substitute the word X-Mas, Saturnalia, Yule, or whatever other term offends you the least.

To add: I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier. However, I’ve long been an advocate for Remembrance Day, I’ve lamented the dismissive way we treat our veterans the other 364 days of the year that aren’t Remembrance Day, and I truly believe we owe a debt of gratitude to those who have fought for our freedom. Even if I don’t believe in the need for war, I respect that these people — including my own grandfather who served in the navy in WWII — believed they were doing the right thing for Canada and its future generations.

But let’s be honest here. Putting up Christmas decorations, having a parade, or pretty much doing anything festive before the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of the year is not sacrilegious, offensive, or diminishing the honour of our soldiers.

In fact, it is exactly the freedom to have displays like this that was part of the reason they went to battle. Just as is the freedom to argue either for or against it.

You are more than welcome to not like pre-November 11th Christmas decorations to your heart’s content. But please don’t assume a sense of moral superiority over — and castigate — those who do.

Here’s a secret: the biggest reason people put up Christmas decorations is this: it’s warmer and easier to do before the weather gets bitterly cold and the snow falls.

That’s it.

Compare hanging Christmas lights on a frozen, snow-covered roof and one that’s markedly free of frost. I know which one I prefer. Stores put out Christmas decorations not to sully Remembrance Day with the vile scourge of commerce, but because it’s their most profitable time of the year and often helps to ensure they can stay open (and, you know, provide jobs) long-term. It the economy, period.

There’s no grand conspiracy to offend our veterans and minimize the importance of Remembrance Day. And there’s one big factor that fails to enter the conversation.

One has nothing to do with the other.

I wear a poppy. I’ve gone through my Christmas decorations to see what I need. I’ve shopped for Christmas presents and done so while wearing my poppy and feeling remarkably free of guilt. I will be attending the November 11th service at the Cenotaph. My respect for that service and the esteem I hold our veterans in will not be, in any way shape or form, impacted at all by any tree lights, festive decorations, or random carolling.

Whether you’re religious or not, Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, togetherness, and an appreciation of family and friends. Yet it makes some people so angry. I guess I just don’t understand.

But I also don’t get offended by Nativity scenes, I enjoy seeing Menorahs in windows, I sing along with all forms of carols — both secular and religious — because to me the spirit of the season is about peace and joy.

And, forgive me if I’m wrong, wasn’t our long-lasting peace and future happiness exactly what our veterans were fighting for?

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