As a child, I was taught to respect my elders. I was told to be kind. I knew to especially respect veterans.
I was told in brutal graphic clarity why I should. Both my parents survived the war as children. They were over there, in the fields in Hungary, in the mud, helping soldiers, when the Allies bombed during the day and the Germans and Russians bombed at night. They experienced it. They had vivid memories. Nightmares. Thanks to them, they came to Canada as refugees as young adults in 1956, because they didn’t want their kids to have to experience war. The level of respect I have for all that my parents have done is tremendous.
As is my respect and admiration for all those that ensure my safety, security and freedom.
As an adult, I have an obligation to show my great appreciation to all that keep me safe from tyranny, war, strife and conflict. They ARE the reason that I have the freedom to choose what path I lead in life. Unequivocally respect.
But every year, I fight an inner struggle. Every year I am faced with a dilemma. And every year, I do the best that I can, to NOT show disrespect with my actions. Let me explain …
Growing up, Remembrance Day meant more. School was closed. The adults didn’t work. And you went to a service in the morning, solemnly, silently ending at
11:11am on November 11. The church bell would ring 11 times.
There was not a stitch of Christmas Holidays to be seen. No seasonal swag anywhere. No Bing or Cole on the radio. And all the shops were closed on this day. You stayed home with family. Ate humbly, and took time to remember the fallen. In fact, you spent some of it with family friends as well, listening to stories of people lost, time long past.
This day was to remember. This day had substance. This day was the one day that you took to respect people, just like you, that sacrificed their lives for all our freedom.
This November 11 falls on a Saturday. So it would seem easy to spend the day as we should … paying respect.
Ahh but no. Remember, the dilemma? Or crux if you will?
As a small local retailer, we hold off stocking shelves with holiday cheer until November 12. It is a choice, to follow tradition and to pay respect. Yes, closing for a day and not putting out Christmas product, does affect business, marginally. But instead, I choose to sleep at night, knowing that I haven’t sacrificed my values. I don't shop. I don't eat out. I don't buy online. I stay in, with family. Just like my parents had me do. Respect - for one day.
On Saturday we would be normally closed. Saturday’s are typically a small retail businesses’ better revenue day. It is also one of the only days that helps us little shops survive against big box & online sales. So this year, we will be open the weekend. Closed on Monday for observance.
In spite of ourselves and the choices we have to make, I will feel horrible about being open. I am sure, some CEO in a tropical home somewhere won’t care in the least about my feeling. Or the fact that we feel bad about staying open, to survive. I do sincerely wish them the best, as they count the earnings from the Christmas sales from this past mid-October. Did I mention Christmas does not arrive in our shop until this Sunday?
I will feel bad. The shop will be open. And life will move on for those of us that are free.
I will feel good about one thing …
Every year, I personally take over one of our shop windows. And every year for this solemn event, I honour those that gave me the freedom to do this for them. It is a very small gesture. It is all about poppies. It is always about the poppies.
This year, the window honours all 11,755 from Saskatchewan that have fallen from 1885 to today. The list creatively installed in the window can also be found here. Take a moment to read the names. They are family, friends and our past.
The Fallen sacrificed everything and freedom is what we were all given. Lest We forget.