Seasons can be measured in many ways. The greening of the earth, and the wild explosion of colours in the spring – and the feeling that everything is new again. The undulating heat rising from the pavement, the desire (and will) to do nothing more than sit in the sun with a cold beer in the summer. The red, orange and gold glory of October, then the gradual fading of all colour in the fall – and the hint of smoke in the crisp air. Fat, fluffy snowflakes and brittle ground and glowing faces signify the start of winter. I often joke that I determine the season by the debris in my house. Mud in the spring, playground sand in the summer, leaves in the fall and road salt in the winter. Now that we’re all caught in the world wide web, though, there are other indicators.
Like Facebook. January is heralded by descriptions of workout routines, healthy recipes and storage solutions. I know it’s February because some people are posting lovey-dovey statuses while others are proclaiming their ability to sustain a meaningful relationship without tacky cards or diamonds (even though – or, perhaps, because – no one offered them either of those things). I know it’s Easter because my newsfeed is awash with images of Jesus and little ones wearing bunny ears (and people who are annoyed that the two coexist). May? Mothers. Everyone wishes for just one more day with their dead mother, thinks their still-mothering mother is the best one ever, is so proud of the mother of their children or is amazingly blessed to be a mother. June? Tributes to Dad, single mothers wishing themselves a happy Father’s Day, and mortarboards above proud young faces. In July and August, everyone’s trying to prove that they are having the summery-est summer. My newsfeed is an endless scroll of well-filtered guts sucked in and captured at just the right angle, wicked sunburns, babies with sweaty heads and sand-filled diapers napping in tiny tents, children racing into or out of the water, umbrella-garnished pastel drinks sweating on patio tables, coffee mugs with a cottage sunrise in the background. September? Back-to-school pics, and complaints about packing lunches – as well as admirably-creative-but-hopelessly-fiddly lunchbox ideas that people will try twice and abandon. Thanksgiving brings recipes and pictures of pumpkin patch visits. Right after Thanksgiving, I start seeing freakishly altered profile pics and costume ideas, and recipes for cookies shaped like spiders and bananas decorated like ghosts – and homemade gummy worms even though you can buy the real thing for pennies any time of the year. So, I know Halloween is coming. Now that Halloween is over, we have entered the annual debate about when to start celebrating Christmas in relation to Remembrance Day. Some people are solidly against even a hint of Christmassing before Remembrance Day, believing that it is disrespectful to our war-dead and our military to make merry while marking their service to our country:
Others say that they can play Christmas music and put up their decorations any damn day they please. I’m with them. We, as free Canadians, owe dead soldiers and still-standing veterans a mighty debt of gratitude. They did horrific things we could never imagine in the name of our freedom – and they won it for us. But freedom is not a concept that changes based on others’ approval – freedom is absolute. You may not like what I’m doing, but generations of brave men and women fought to the death for my right to do it – I say that you are disrespecting them when you try to take that from me. I, personally, do not often get into celebrating Christmas before Remembrance Day. This is not because I think it’s wrong; it’s because I celebrate Christmas for many weeks (well into January), and holding off builds anticipation and makes the holidays just a touch more special. Also, I prefer to take things one at a time – I like to focus on each special day on its own. That’s my style, and it’s ok. Just like it’s ok to put up Christmas decorations on November 1 or December 24, and to take them down on December 26 or February 1. It’s ok to not celebrate Christmas at all. Freedom.
We are a society of proud – and, in many cases, reasonably successful – multitaskers, but we can become very single-minded when it suits our purposes. We can listen to music and drink a coffee and eat a muffin and chat with a friend while we drive – but, apparently, we can’t acknowledge soldiers’ sacrifices and celebrate Christmas at the same time? Of course we can! We do things like that all the time. We celebrate a child’s birthday while mourning the passing of a grandparent. We set a festive table and make a toast to our blessings, while our hearts give a sad, silent nod to the invisible empty chairs. We are stopped in our tracks, shocked speechless, at the horror of a terrorist attack – and then we rejoice over the announcement that a relative or friend is going to bring another brand new soul into this weary, scarred world. We love in the face of hatred. We celebrate as we grieve. And some of us thank those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom while we Christmas it up – because we can.