Friday, July 01, 2005

Eh to Zed: Thoughts On Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!

You know, I never think of myself as being especially patriotic. I think it's a Canadian thing. Americans get all prideful over their flag and even just the colours red/white/blue make them stand up and salute. But we Canadians are usually more subtle about our patriotism. (Just don't call us American!) Today however, I found myself getting all choked up when I heard Oh Canada on the radio. Weird.

I do know I love my country but the trappings of patriotism like flags and anthems have always seemed kind of silly to me. Maybe it's because I remember when we schoolchildren were feverishly drawing and submitting our designs for the new flag to replace the old Red Ensign? (Yes, I'm that old. They didn't pick my design. The seas on either side of that maple leaf are not red, they're dark green. At least that's what colour my Pacific Ocean looks to me. I've never seen the Atlantic.) Furthermore I get embarrassed by rituals (must be left over from my Catholic upbringing) and though I like music and singing, making one particular song more important than a bunch of other perfectly good songs is just not giving everyone else a chance. I mean, I've got thousands of good songs in my iTunes here on my computer. (Thom gets the iPod.) And what was with changing some of the words to Oh Canada? Now older people sing it one way and young people sing it another. It's like getting to the part in Happy Birthday where everyone sings "Happy birthday, dear..." and they all sing a different name.

It's interesting that in the last couple of years Canadians have been celebrating Canada Day a lot harder than they used to. The wearing of red and white is pretty common. Even more frightening is the propensity of people to paint flags and maple leaves on their faces and arms. Reminds me of the old "be-ins" that I used to attend in my hippy youth. We painted flowers on our faces though, not leaves. There are events all over the city today. (I'm not going to any of them. Thom is working and I'm going to visit mom in the care home instead.) Even darling daughter Celeste is off to Ottawa with her sweetie Sean to celebrate in style in the nation's capital city. I guess it helped that Sean's dad paid for the plane tickets.

One little negative — I often feel that Central Canada forgets about us over here on the Left Coast. Just the phrase "Central Canada" annoys me no end. They're way over there in the southeast and they think they're in the middle? Haven't they looked at a map recently? Hello? My Canada includes all the provinces and territories. Even those frozen islands up there in the Arctic. One day I hope to see more of it than BC, Yukon, and half of Alberta.

Top 10 reasons why I love being Canadian (in no particular order except as it occurred to me):

1. I'm not American — or anything else for that matter.

2. Canadian English is easily comprehensible by just about anybody who understands English. Unfortunately our French isn't understood by anyone else.

3. I get to say "eh?" instead of "huh?". I also say "zed," not "zee." And I'm careful to put all those u's in colour, neighbour, favourite, mould etc. But I don't say "oot" or "aboot." Are we clear?

4. Canada has multiculturalism. That means we get to have the best restaurants in the world with more kinds of food than you can imagine. We also get to have Chinese, Korean, and Punjabi on our signs, except in Quebec where we only have French. Funny thing, out of those languages I can only read the French.

5. Multiculturalism also means that we can understand any accent as long as the language is vaguely English. I do wish I could speak Cantonese though. I never use the Parisian French that I spent 5 years trying to learn. Now I've forgotten most of it anyway. I can still read it though.

6. We have more bald eagles than the US, even though they think bald eagles are a big symbol of theirs. We have lots of other wildlife too. Though they have some things we don't have, like armadillos and my beloved manatees. (I've never actually seen a manatee, but Thom has. So they exist. They're cute!)

7. Canada is the second largest country in the world in square kilometres (after Russia). Lots of room for our small population — though I guess living where there's snow and ice for 10 months and muskeg and mosquitoes for the other 2 months is asking a bit much of most people. Consequently most of us are jammed down as far south as we can get without crossing the US border.

8. We Canadians have the reputation throughout the world as being "nice". I hope that's a good thing.

9. Being nice means we stay out of stupid wars that make no sense and don't help the people they're supposed to be helping.

10. Being nice also means we help when we can. Even if Bob Geldoff gives us a hard time for not forking money over willy-nilly to help Africans unless we know first where the money is going and who's going to benefit. Note to "Sir Bob": Just throwing money at a problem doesn't necessarily make it go away.

Craft Report
What craft report? I'm still working on the poncho edging. I'll let you know when it's done.

Happy Canada Day!

EXTRA NOTE: OK, I was wrong yesterday. (Takes a big girl to admit when she was wrong.) Roberta's comment was indeed wonderful but I completely forgot about 2 other comments! Silly me. There was my buddy Judy from Ontario. And dear Joanne who helped me back when I was in the early stages of my blogging learning curve. Sorry, Judy and Joanne! Please forgive my brain blank. I appreciate you are the first people to read this blog besides Thom, who doesn't count as The Public.

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