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Pack your bathing suit, slather on the sunscreen and get your domestic travel documents in order! (No proof of vaccination is necessary; the urgency of that vanished with the end of the federal election campaign.) That’s right – Remembrance Day is just around the corner, and you know what that means: It’s time to hit the beach.

As a service to readers, for no particular reason, I’d like to use this space to offer some ideas on how to make the most of the approaching statutory holiday. And what better way to pay tribute to the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy than to storm your own beach in Tofino, Grand Bend or Cavendish, but with Havana flip-flops as your combat boots, and a trip to the snack stand as your inland advance? In Canada, after all, we honour lives lost with a little personal R&R: rest and reconcil – er, sorry – relaxation.

Now, while you and I both know you are obviously entitled to this day off, some might not take kindly to your decision to reflect on the trauma of war with a sun-soaked siesta and the latest Stephen King novel. That’s why it’s best to – how shall I put it – craft a creative out-of-office reply for those who might inquire about your whereabouts. Tell your colleagues you are attending “private meetings in Ottawa” and can’t be disturbed for the day; if that doesn’t satisfy them, elaborate to say you are also entertaining phone calls from wounded veterans from the patio of your rented beachfront mansion. But don’t let the haters derail your vacation too much: You earned your day off.

As is often the case with such holidays, special events will be held across the country to pay tribute to the victims of war and to hear the harrowing stories of the veterans who were able to return home. But those stories will be just as harrowing when streamed on YouTube later in the week, and surely everyone understands how hard it is to secure a cottage rental in the COVID-19 era. Indeed, if you’ve managed to snag one, I think we’d all agree giving that up would be its own type of horrific trauma.

In any case, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t still pay tribute to Canada’s heroes. You might consider, for example, pinning a poppy to your wetsuit when you go surfing this Remembrance Day. Or why not recite In Flanders Field while exfoliating in the tub of one of your property’s seven bathrooms with a glass of wine? That would be both patriotic and ensure you’re devoting the right amount of time to personal skin care – and that’s what we call that a Remembrance Day win-win! You may also choose to request that your brunch is served at precisely 11:11 a.m., as the soldiers who perished at the Somme surely would have wanted.

Remember, on this solemn day of reflection and appreciation, that the most important thing you can do is listen: to your body’s cues on what you should have for lunch, for instance, or to the lifeguard about whether the water conditions are safe for surfing, or to the voicemails left after your out-of-office message, but only after you return home. Veterans may have your undivided attention at an event the night before Remembrance Day, but the actual day is for Canada’s most important soldier: you.

One more tip: To avoid being hassled by priggish busybodies on the beach asking why you didn’t respond to requests to participate in official Remembrance Day events, tap your network of wealthy philanthropist friends to see whether they have a private island and/or helicopter on offer. If they do, make sure you don’t tell anyone where you’re going, so you can enjoy the ultimate secluded family getaway.

No one should begrudge you a vacation after all the hard work you’ve done lecturing others about the horrors of battle and the neglect veterans are made to endure in this country. And if not on the one day specifically devoted to honouring the dead, to heeding the lessons of war, to retelling the stories of survivors and to constructing a better path forward, then when? The day after? C’mon. Don’t be hysterical.

There will nevertheless be people who express disappointment – even “shock and dismay” – at your decision to treat a sombre day of reflection as a chance to feel the sand between your toes. But I give you permission to tell those people to go jump in a lake. After all, it’s not like you’re the one who created the new federal statutory holiday in the first place.

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