Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Welcome/Bienvenue



Yesterday was Canada Day. For us, it was extra special because it was the first year that we celebrated it as Canadians. For me personally, it was even more special because I share my birthday with Canada, so each of us marked the beginning of a new year yesterday.

As I was wandering around the yard yesterday morning, pulling up weeds in the flower garden (many) and looking for new seedlings in the garden (few), our neighbor's daughter, who is three, came over carrying a bag with some cake and a card in it. The card was congratulating us on becoming Canadians and the cake was to help us celebrate. It was so kind and thoughtful and touching - I was surprised how moved I felt by the gesture of welcome.

Then again, Canadians are a welcoming lot. Because they don't have the burden of living in a country that is an empire, they don't have the bitterness or cynicism that goes along with it. Their gestures to celebrate their country, that is to say, my country, don't feel ironic or filled with a kind of threatening, self-righteous blind patriotism, which is so often how I feel about such efforts in the US. When I looked at the Canadian flag on the card and I felt...happy.

When I try to explain what is happening in the US to my fellow Canadians, or when I try to engage them in a conversation about US politics of any kind, I always get the same reaction from people here. It is almost hard to describe. They aren't bored exactly, but they really seem like they just don't want to get into it. All the mess, particularly of the last seven years - the wars, the arrogance, the self-inflicted chaos - is not something to be spoken of in polite society, and while they may make some sympathetic noises, they prefer to change the subject. I really haven't been able to understand why no one wants to engage in it.

Perhaps it is the politeness thing. Canadians are famously polite and our experiences, even with bureaucrats, even at Motor Vehicles Registration!, have born that out. But it is more than that. Perhaps it is that Canadians have enough space around them - only 30 million of them (us) in a space as large as the US - to see things more clearly. People here look south at all the madness and ask, what ARE they doing down there? well, not really our business to get involved...

Then again, I could be full of sh*t.

In any case, I felt a real pang of pride that I could associate myself with this country that values peace over war and needs knitters for very real reasons.

1 comment:

Patti Blaine said...

A belated happy birthday, Robyn!