Written by Karen D. Swim
In the United States today is Veteran’s Day. The holiday was originally known as Armistice Day and was to commemorate the temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” In 1919 President Eisenhower had this to say:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those
who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
I don’t know about you but a day to honor heroism, freedom, justice and peace doesn’t seem to be a bad deal. But this Veteran’s Day it seems to be business as usual. Banks and schools are open and there is no parade or flag flying. This day like the rest of November has been forgotten.
Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving have been shoved aside while marketers turn our attention to Christmas. The stores have been decked out in Christmas decorations since November 1st. Wreaths, ornaments and wrapping paper sit next to the Halloween sale items. Christmas carols play in the background with hopes of putting shoppers in a buying mood.
November has been shelved like a cheap polyester suit. It’s as though someone declared, “There’s no money in Thanksgiving. Push Christmas, that’s where the money is at. Push it early and we’ll double our profits.” Well, I like November! I like the crunch of Fall leaves and impromptu football games. I love Veteran’s Day parades and little flags that you can hold in your hand. I like pausing for a day and being grateful for my freedoms. I love Thanksgiving Day – a day where we celebrate the things that really matter in our life. I WANT MY NOVEMBER BACK!
I know that the eocnomy is bad but is this truly the answer? To my thinking, our present economic state is all the more reason for savoring a month of Thanksgiving. What better time to connect with what matters and give thanks? Why wouldn’t we want to slow the pace down this month and allow our minds and body a break from the stress of this past year?
I’m not ready to deck the halls and ring the sleigh bells. I want tofurkey, and cranberry sauce. I want to gather with my family and marvel at how the youngsters have grown and laugh at my Grandmother’s jokes. I want to walk in a house filled with the warmth of family and inhale the intoxicating scent of cinnamon. I want to squeeze into a tiny little space on the couch and yell at the football game. Is it really necessary to squeeze out November to make a buck?
What are you seeing where you live? Is this November different for you? I’ll be watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special and looking for the last remaining pile of leaves. Join me? 🙂
Janice Cartier says
I have been thinking about this since I read it. That easing into seasons is important, transitions have a purpose. Ever fly from one climate zone to another and felt way off? Looking at all of the notes from Ulla and others, each culture has some observance of those agrarian rhythms. If we rush through them, how do we really the subtle moments and pleasures each has to offer?
( I will put the poppy into the flow, a note in a sketchbook for now. And thanks, It’s SOOOO awful hearing someone enjoys my work. 🙂 )
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Meryl K. Evans says
It’s a relief the retailers haven’t found a way to mess with Thanksgiving — just the grocery stores putting out all the good stuff to tempt us and giving us lots of coupons.
One thing I’ll say about Hanukkah — when I was growing up, we could hardly find anything for decorating. It’s a fun holiday as the more important holidays are boring for kids. It also helps kids not feel completely left out of the December holidays.
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Karen Swim says
Hi Meryl! From the mouths of babes, eh? Tell your 5 year old I can’t understand it either! LOL! I love Thanksgiving for the same reasons you do, it is holiday relatively untainted where you simply get to enjoy family and friends and count your blessings. Christmas has been ruined by retailers. Each year, I wonder if they’ll ruin Hannukah too!
Meryl K. Evans says
I love November, too. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday as it involves so little compared to the December holidays while you can truly enjoy the holiday. Yeah, stop skipping Thanksgiving and going straight to December holidays.
My five-year-old noticed the Christmas tree and holiday decor in a store and couldn’t understand why it was decorated for Christmas already.
Karen Swim says
@ Jan, I feel sad about the lone poppy. Will you paint it? I can see that being a wonderful framework for your talent. 🙂 Have I told you lately how much I love your work?
@Karen, Macy’s! Bah Humbug! They are also bombarding the airwaves with their Christmas ads!
@ Ulla, wow I love learning about the different celebrations and traditions. Although as I said to Karen W. I would go completely nuts if Christmas advertising started in Sept. Ugh! I hope you’ll treat us to more about your holiday season on your blog (hint, hint). 🙂
@Rebecca, after our traditional celebration, I say we meet virtually for Charlie Brown and popcorn! It 🙂 will be fun!
@Kim, since moving to a state that has Winter I have met people who also seem to anticipate the snowy days and are not all that fond of November or maybe it’s the fast pace of activity as everyone races to get things done before Christmas and year end. Hmmm… but I don’t know anyone who wants to hear Christmas music before they’ve had their Turkey! LOL!
@Melissa, me either! 🙂
Melissa Donovan says
@Karen, I haven’t been to a mall in about three years!
Kim Woodbridge | (Anti) Social Development says
I can’t completely relate – for some reason November has always been one of my least favorite months. I think it’s a seasonal thing though more than a holiday one.
My daughter didn’t have school but everyone I know had to work.
Although a day to honor Vets is important we need so much more. VA benefits have been cut while we are currently at war. I also recently read that while 11% of the US population are Vets, 40% of all homeless people are Vets. Something isn’t quite right. I would rather have respect and needed services given to these individuals rather than a day.
I’m with you on the Christmas music on Nov 1st – can’t stand it. I’ve scaled back my holiday shopping quite a bit but now and do most of it online because the shops have become annoying rather than magical.
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Rebecca Smith says
Yes, I’ll join you!
Very well written, Karen. I love November for everything you said it brings: remembrance, family, food, football, fallen leaves (but not necessarily raking them …), and Charlie Brown’s fantastic feast where everyone eats toast and popcorn!
Happy November 🙂
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Ulla Hennig says
we in Germany have “Erntedankfest” as an old tradition in October, meaning thanking for the harvests of the year. Since a few years we have Halloween (as far as I remember coming together with Harry Potter!). The last sunday in November is the 1st Advent, and officially then the Christmas season begins. But the first signs of Christmas have been in the shops since the middle of September.
For me, November should be the month of quiet, of feeling how the year and nature is coming to a rest. Here in Germany we have two November sundays of mourning: “Totensonntag” which is the day where we go the visit our dear ones’ graves, and “Volkstrauertag”, where we mourn the people who died in the WWs I and II. And I don’t like the busy noise of Christmas selling in the stores at that time.
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Karen Putz says
Karen, you just expressed my thoughts! The hubby and I were downtown over the weekend and I mentioned how it seemed like we skipped through Oct and Nov– Macy’s put up their Christmas tree and had their lighting ceremony over the weekend! It felt so wrong!
Janice Cartier says
I am with you too. One lone poppy. I saw one lone poppy last night. Usually reserved for Memorial Day, I saw a poppy buttonier on an Englishman last night. In remembrance. My dad used to wear them on Memorial day. He was a vet.
I’d like to see more of those poppies mingled with the November leaves.
I think Thanksgiving is my favorite meal. Ugh, No tofurkey, please…hm…in Pearlington alongside the river, out in the pine bottomlands, we’d deep fry them to go with the baked one from the oven. It’s a guy thing, requires tools, fire, and outdoors. Boat rides, hikes on the boardwalks. No tv. Just lots of sky. And people glad to be there. Rocks in the porch swing. Kids all around. And elders.
Kind of tribal if you think about it. But good. Kind of centering.
Karen, we need our Novembers. How wonderful of you to speak up.
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Karen Swim says
@Melissa, I can only imagine what the malls are doing. I am encountering it at the grocery store and drug store! Really makes me long for a return to a simpler time.
@Brad, you are so right, the true meaning is lost in the commercialism. Saddest of all the focus on spending creates a lot of stress esp in this economy and makes people depressed and snippy. It truly has sapped the peace and joy out of the holiday, you’d think people would rebel, but I guess not….
@Brandon, Hi Brandon! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Ooh, you bring the leaves, I’ll bring the rake and hot chocolate! 🙂
@Karen, an unexpected benefit of this post is learning how traditions vary around the globe. I love it! – cold turkey and cranberry sauce! I grew up in Southern California where the weather is warm and I can remember going to the beach with friends a few Christmases. Now I live in Michigan where we have a white Christmas. The food hasn’t changed though! 🙂 I’d go bonkers if we were bombarded with Christmas advertising beginning in Sept!
Karen Wallace says
I find it really interesting to read your post about the traditions and holidays celebrated in the US. Here in Australia, we do honour Rememberance Day on November 11 with a minute silence at 11am. It isn’t a holiday – and my earliest memories of that are sitting cross legged in the school assembly hall, sweltering, as we all were silent for that minute. We have ANZAC Day in April and it’s then we have parades and dawn services…
But the run up to the festive season and the Christmas rush is the big thing now. Since we have no Halloween, no Bonfire night, and no Thanksgiving it’s a straight run of Christmas madness from mid-September (after Father’s Day)!
So I’m with you. I’d love it if we could just put off that commercialism for November and let us enjoy the last of the beautiful spring weather.
PS We still get turkey and cranberry sauce – they are our Christmas fare – usually served cold as it is invariably hot hot hot.
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Wonderful, familial post. Instantly reminded of childhood leaf raking and the good hearted feeling of the weeks coming before the good ole Bird Day.
Your observation to bring the month back is welcomed! Thanks for sharing
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Brad Shorr says
Well said, Karen! Commercialism has all but destroyed Thanksgiving, along with Christmas itself. And now, Veteran’s Day. What a tragedy. We all need spiritual renewal, and that is what Christmas should be about.
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Melissa Donovan says
Well, I’ve been too busy to visit any stores but I’m always annoyed when retailers ring in Christmas before Thanksgiving. The holiday season used to have a rhythm – it kicked off with costumes and candy on Halloween, there was a day of recognition for the veterans who served this country so heroically, and then Thanksgiving – a time for family and food.
I liked it a lot better when the Christmas season started on the day after Thanksgiving. I’ve thought about this before but was never able to explain why it bothers me as clearly as you have but it’s true – these selling tactics really cheapen the whole thing. It makes me sad.
Karen Swim says
@Robert, LOL! Hey Tofurkey is really good especially with a side of sweet potatoes and soy mac n cheese, yummm! 🙂 My family on the other hand likes Turkey and regular mac n’cheese. So if you and the Mrs. wanted to drop in you’d get the traditional dinner, complete with homemade cornbread dressing.
@Friar, I agree! Both Canada and US had recent elections which one would think would inspire us to remember men and women who fought for freedom, but nooooo. It breaks my heart too to see the older vets, huddled together as their numbers grow smaller. These people truly sacrificed to serve country. An hour to attend a ceremony seems such a small price for us to pay to say Thank You.
Karen Swims last blog post..The Pieces of My Life
Don’t get me started! This is a topic I feel passionate about.
Today is our “Remembrance Day”. We don’t have a Memorial day, so this is the only day of the year we remember our Vets.
For the Govt., it’s a holiday, but for the rest of us, it’s business as usual.
Our office building is right in the middle of our small town. You can literally see the town square from the windows. It’s a few hundred yards away. It would take two minutes to walk over and attend the Remembrance Day Ceremony.
Many of us did. But many didn’t. It was EMBARASSING.
You wonder why the senior managers didn’t go down to the offices, and ORDER people to go attend.
Some of these Vets were in their 80’s, standing outside, shivering the cold. The LEAST we can do is take one hour out of the year, and go stand with them, and tell them thanks.
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Karen Swim says
Wendi, thank you so much for sharing my frustration! You are not alone! I love Thanksgiving too especially as it seemed like one of the few holidays that could not be ruined by commercialism. You and I will band together and start our own Thanksgiving revival! 🙂
Joanna, wow, yes very different! I didn’t even think of this but since there’s no Thanksgiving there is also no Black Friday. The Thanksgiving Weekend here kicks off the Christmas retail season. As you can see, we have commercialised the entire holiday season. 🙂 Perhaps I’ll move to the UK. I can always celebrate thanksgiving but I would escape the holiday retail push here!
Karen Swims last blog post..The Pieces of My Life
Robert Hruzek says
Hey, I’m with ya, Karen! (Except for the, uh, tofurkey. Yuck!)
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Joanna Young says
How different our worlds are Karen! Of course we don’t have thanksgiving, but no real sign of Xmas yet, partly because we get temporarily distracted by Halloween and Bonfire Night.
The 11th of November has never been a holiday (to my knowledge anyway), but people still take the 2 minute silence at 11am very seriously, and there has been a lot of coverage of Armistice Day this year, because it’s the 90th anniversary of the end of WWI hostilities.
I hope you manage to get some of your November back 🙂
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Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations says
I agree with you 100% This is the first year our schools are open and our kids are in school and I am furious! And my daughter’s teacher is a veteran! They take off for the most ridiculous reasons EVER and they go to school today. I actually gave my kids the choice to stay home but my daughter, wiser than her years, said “If my teacher has to go than I will go too and be with him.” Grrr.
NO Christmas in our house until Thanksgiving is over. We have the full blown HUGE Thanksgiving here, there is already cinnaman pinecones and autumn decorations filling up the house and come Thanksgiving day the house will be bursting at the seems with family, turkey, cranberries, two kinds of stuffing and enough mashed potatoes to wheigh down the table legs. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. One day out of the year to stop everything and be grateful.
I’m not giving that up and I’m not going to stop honoring the very reason why our country is able to remain the place where we can be grateful for the freedoms we have.
Thanks for the moment to rant. The pressure was building up all by myself!
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