There is a bit of controversy spawned by some opinion polls regarding commercial businesses playing Christmas music and putting up decorations so early. It seems that the most common opinion is that, out of respect for our veterans, we should not enter into the festive mood until after Remembrance Day.
We have opened the doors of the Christmas Bureau, complete with a tree and decorations, but we hold off on the Christmas music until after Dec. 1. Some stores start putting up lights and decorations the day after Halloween and some wait until later.
I have spoken to some of the old soldiers who have their picture on display in the City of Langley. They talk about how they have brought generations of their families downtown to show them the banners and had their picture taken with them. As they walk along the street, they recognize brothers in arms they served with or marched beside in the Remembrance Day parades. They remark how each year there are fewer here at home, but the memories on the lamp posts still remain.
Every year on Nov. 1, we buy our poppies, or sometimes two or three, knowing we will lose at least one. We see the programming on the TV lean towards the war documentaries and the wartime movies. The opportunities to remember and give thanks are all around us for 11 days, and I suppose it’s not a good idea to create bright, festive displays to distract us from such a sombre occasion.
We attend the cenotaphs locally and watch the proceedings from Vancouver and Ottawa and we give our two minutes of silence in respect. Then the next day, we move on. We carry on with our lives and live and love and celebrate the way all those uniformed men and women wanted us to do. We enjoy the freedom they gave us.
As the November rain is falling on the wreaths and the plastic poppies are fluttering in the cold wind, the veteran’s banners will come down and the spirit of Christmas will go up. As the lingering strains of Amazing Grace and The Last Post fade away, Silent Night and Jingle Bells will slip in. We continue to move on, just as they did, in the mud and the snow and the desert sand, pushing ahead to preserve our way of life.
I believe we are asked to remember them but not to mourn for them or grieve for them, but to celebrate their sacrifices and victories. So many towns and cities celebrated with lights and music when their boys returned and I’m sure no one took notice of what season it was. They were just glad it was over.
I can only imagine what a soldier might think if he comes home this week to see his house ablaze in Christmas lights in November. What a spectacular homecoming that would be and not disrespectful at all.
Don’t take my word for it and don’t pay too much attention to the polls. Go to the ceremonies on Sunday and ask the people it really matters to. At least that’s what McGregor says.
Jim Mcgregor is a Black Press columnist with the Langley Times.