Vinay Menon: Why Canada Day and all holidays should be cancelled until this pandemic is over
|Toronto Star 30 Jun 2020 at 15:24|
The thought crossed my mind as I was reading about 2020 festivities, including “virtual fireworks” for Wednesday. According to the Government of Canada: “At 10 p.m., local time, point your smartphone or tablet to the night sky and a 3-minute show displaying 3D fireworks will begin. The augmented reality experience will give you the same visual and sound effects as a real fireworks display!”
Come on. I haven’t heard a more dubious promise since a hottie in Grade 11 teased a possible date if I wrote her history essay on John A. Macdonald. Did I do her homework? Yup. Did we ever make it to the food court in Fairview Mall to hit up Taco Bell? Nope.
Isn’t virtual fireworks a bit like virtual swimming? I can tell you this, your dog will not be cowering under a table at 10 p.m. on Wednesday as it has during previous Canada Day celebrations. As you gaze into your upheld phone, it will stare out the window and wonder if it’s time to find a new family.
Virtual fireworks? Bah! Stop trying to simulate normal during this abnormal time, Government of Canada. If you want to help us out this Canada Day, send us some free beer. Or a box of Maple Leaf-shaped burgers. Or a red-and-white bat I can use to hit myself over the head to start each day.
Virtual fireworks are a slap in the face during a time of learned helplessness because fake festivity is no match for real melancholy. True patriot love? You know what would be far more celebratory and cathartic? If at 10 p.m., every Canadian wandered outside and howled at the moon. You know? We replace the fake pyrotechnics and sonic booms with real profanities and the shrieks of an opera singer who has just stubbed a toe. We scream out a collective blue streak to release pent-up frustration.
Celebrating a country’s birthday during a global pandemic is like going to Hooters to behold the modest attire. We are effectively under house arrest; my kids come down for dinner in their bathrobes, my wife is online shopping for the apocalypse and the hell with 1867 Confederation!
I researched the hottie’s essay. John A. Macdonald did not know squat about social distancing.
It’s not just Canada Day that should be cancelled this year. Until a vaccine arrives, we should get a mulligan on all 2020 statutory holidays. After there is a cure for this coronavirus, that’s when we should celebrate with a block of deferred and scrambled jubilation. Monday is New Year’s Day. Tuesday is Labour Day. Wednesday is Christmas. Thursday is Easter. Friday is Victoria Day.
And then on the weekend, we burn our masks in a national bonfire.
The cultural DNA of every holiday is rooted in the truth that humans are pack animals. But that truth is diametrically at odds with best practices during a viral outbreak. Yes, on Canada Day, I’d love nothing more than to host a big barbecue for family and friends, as I’ve done many times before. But that’s now irresponsible. And even being reminded that it’s Canada Day seems like a cruel taunt.
Every government around the world should now be focused on two things: 1. Public health. 2. The economy. That’s basically it. Striking the right balance between those two things is the key to our future. Everything else — especially holiday celebrations — is a total waste of time and resources.
I am sustained by fond Canada Day memories of yesteryear: the 10-cent hot dogs at Harbourfront; the Canadian flag cheek tattoos that made me and my younger brown brothers look like burn victims; the free concerts; the picnics at Sunnybrook Park; the all-day road hockey tournaments; the home DJ sessions in which beloved Canadian musicians — Tom Cochrane, the Spoons, The Box, Rush, Saga, Platinum Blonde, the Northern Pikes, Strange Advance, the Payolas, Kim Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, Bryan Adams, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Honeymoon Suite, Martha & the Muffins — were cued up and praised at high decibels as glorious manna for our eardrums.
I could write a column every day for the rest of my life and never fully express how much I love this country. Canada welcomed my parents when they were in their early 30s and had nothing but a dream for a better life. It wasn’t easy in those early years, but that dream was granted.