Before Halloween had even come upon us, there were Christmas decorations filling the shelves of stores. Here, near Edmonton, the landscape is full of snow and it certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I know so many people who love Christmas because of the feelings evoked. Whether you are religious or not, many people have fond memories of Christmas or the promise of seeing family and loved ones whom they might not see on a regular basis. I know people are itching to get their trees up, switch their holiday lights on, and dig out their favourite tunes for this time of year. But that’s the thing…. It’s only early November.
November 11 is Remembrance Day. Now, I’m not big on conflict. In stereotypical Canadian fashion, I much prefer to be a peacemaker. I can be a fence sitter on many issues because I can see the point of view (or attempt to) of each party. I am also wholly uncomfortable with the arrogance of first world nations who go into other countries and try to tell them how things should be run. At the same time I understand that sometimes war is/was inevitable and I am thankful for those who willingly make sacrifices that I know I never could.
The other day my daughter R asked about the poppy and why it symbolizes Remembrance Day. We chatted about it and I read to her In Flander’s Fields.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
– John McCrae
While reading it to her, I teared up. I can’t help it. I completely revere these men and women who lived/live in a world that is so different from the safety of my own. I truly believe that we don’t pay enough respect to those that have risked their lives for the safety and freedom of our country. I believe that we really could do without moving on to the Christmas season before we’ve paid our respects. Properly. And to me that means keeping with the moment. Embracing and showing your gratitude for this particular holiday without your head being full of plans for the next one to come.
So what are some ways you can observe this holiday? Go to a Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11. Observe the 2 minutes of silence. Donate or partake in the No Stone Left Alone campaign. Support the poppy campaign. Educate yourself.
Apparently I can’t post links? So copy and paste if you want to visit any of them.
- (Veterans Affairs Canada) http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/iremember
- (Legion Poppy Campaign) http://www.legion.ca/Poppy/campaign_e.cfm
- (Vimy Ridge – this is a children’s non-fiction book but has so much great information in it. It’s a compelling read. I highly recommend) http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Vimy-Ridge-Canadas-Greatest-World-Hugh-Brewster/9780439949828-item.html?ikwid=vimy+ridge&ikwsec=Home
- (No Stone Left Alone) http://www.nostoneleftalone.ca/