On Friday, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we were asked to remember those who served our country, past and present.
We do this every year on the same day as part of our custom of showing respect for veterans and gratitude for our rights and freedoms.
In Canada, we are fortunate because although many soldiers went to war, the front lines didn’t come to us. As a result, the Remembrance Day memories are literally not as close to home. For a few generations now, there has also not been a “great war”, so for many of us it might be hard to understand the depth of sacrifice made by people who experienced it.
Even for those who stayed home, wartime was full of changes in daily life. This week, for our Girl Guides, I made a British cookie recipe that was adapted during the Second World War, when some food items were rationed. They were less delicious than modern-day favourites, but we agreed, any cookie was better than none.
I think tasting a cookie that has a flavour of “making do” helped them understand a bit about sacrifice. But when I explained the idea of having to give up things—like stuffies—for the greater good, that really hit home.
You see, for us to be grateful, we need to make a connection between two different situations. If we understand what it takes to get from one situation to another, then gratitude comes more easily.
Often, when we are grateful (recognizing we are in the better situation), we want to give to others, in hopes their situation can improve too. (As in, sharing food, especially with those less fortunate or able to prepare their own.)
The tricky part is when we give everything to others and there is not as much, or even none, left for us. That’s when we call it a sacrifice.
Past generations spent Novembers, and all the other months during the wars, with rations and shortages. Slogans such as “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without” were put on posters. People got creative during wartime.
Women painted their legs with brown lines to imitate the look of stockings. Spam was invented to replace the lack of bacon and sausage. People grew “victory” gardens and learned to preserve foods—a household’s sugar ration could even be increased for canning purposes. Necessity really was the mother of invention.
In today’s world, we have had it pretty good. Some would say our most recent battle was the pandemic. There were no formal rations here, but store limits were set when some supplies ran short.
People took up making sourdough, and gardening, even canning. The soldiers in this battle were medical workers (as in previous battles) but other front-line workers (using wartime terminology) were folks working in shops or driving supply trucks on their regular routes.
Perhaps the veterans who fought on the front lines these last few years will be remembered in some way like the veterans of past wars. Remembering we are all connected in our experiences helps us to be sympathetic, even possibly more kind.
November is a month of gratitude, with American Thanksgiving, the start to the winter holiday season, Giving Tuesday, etc.
I wonder, will that keep us mindful of how fortunate we are to be here? I hope so.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.