Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday's Words for June 30, 2010

Here in Southern Ontario, school is out for another year. I’m not sure where the time has gone; I could have sworn it was the beginning of March just last week. But the days have been sweltering, the corn is getting tall, so I guess it must truly be summer. And the first ritual of summer is our Nation’s birthday.

Tomorrow is Canada Day, and since we celebrate on the actual day, many people will be having a day off work mid-week. Here, companies don’t tend to give more than the one day holiday to employees, so the only time we get a long weekend out of the deal is when July 1 falls Friday to Monday.

We celebrate our National holiday much the same was as Americans celebrate Independence Day. We have parades and picnics, music and laughter, craft sales and dances and fireworks after dark.

Canadians don’t tend to be as overtly patriotic as Americans are. I recall one vacation, way back in the last century (that makes me sound really old), when we were in Orlando. We visited the Church Street Station for an evening, and we’d never seen anything like it. What impressed us the most was the closing number of one show we saw at the Country and Western Bar. There we witnessed the most rousing rendition of America the Beautiful, complete with flags and pyrotechnics, we had ever seen—and yes, this was several years before 9/11.

Here, you might get a playing of the National Anthem. Maybe. At the beginning of a show or performance. But unless it is a very special occasion—or Canada Day—you’re not likely to see flags waving much at all.

Our lack of display isn’t, however, synonymous with a lack of patriotism. We just tend, most of the time (Olympic hockey championship games notwithstanding) to be quieter about it.

This year, our Queen is in country for the occasion. She’ll be in Ottawa, of course, our Nation’s capital for tomorrow’s festivities. Monday she attended a special ceremony in Halifax to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. Our Navy isn’t very large, so it was an International flotilla gathered for the celebration in Halifax harbour and which Her Majesty “inspected”.

When I was a child July 1 was called “Dominion Day”, and my first real memory of the holiday is wrapped around the fact that it’s also my brother’s birthday. Yes, he had me convinced the parade in downtown Hamilton was in his honour. I was gullible then and in fact, that hasn’t changed much. I still tend to take people and things at face value.

The last few years we attended a Canada Day pig roast co-hosted by a friend of ours who is a co-worker of my husband. A casual event, with fewer that one hundred people, it was one of the highlights of the summer for us, an event we really looked forward to. Unfortunately, that party isn’t being held this year, and we haven’t made plans to do anything else instead.

Despite the fact that the small town we live in tends to have organized events at the fairgrounds, and the city next door to us has a huge celebration in one of its parks complete with live bands and cotton candy, we’ve actually never attended either event. That sounds kind of dreadful, doesn’t it? But the truth of the matter is we really are not party animals, and we don’t like large crowds at all.

We do, however, have the Maple Leaf flying proudly on a flagpole on our front porch, and it is there every day, not just one.

One of the best things about living in a free society—you can celebrate, or not, as you choose. Honestly, I wouldn’t live anyplace else.


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