Nov. 25, 1999

Happy American Thanksgiving

The 'net is oh so quiet today.

All things American are closed, people are "afk" (away from keyboard) and dealing with their own particular form of family dysfunction I mean celebration.

Sometimes I wonder why Americans throw themselves so completely into holidays such as Thanksgiving. Part of me envies the four or five-day hiatus from normal life, the obligatory family reunion, the pig-out meal, the getting back in touch with one's roots.
The part of me that would have to clean my house, cook for thirty people and shelter out-of-town guests merely watches with detached amusement.

The celebration seems to transcend religious boundaries too. The American Jewish families I know celebrate just as everyone else does. (Sorry I can't comment on other ethnic groups but I'd be interested to find out as long as it didn't involve any actual research on my part.)

Americans also fly bigger flags more proudly more often than Canadians do. I think the flag at the car dealership off I-87 in Plattsburgh NY is bigger even than the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill. Probably bigger than ANY Canadian flag in existence. Americans also make sure their kids learn American history. If it's not drilled into their heads adequately at school, it appears inextricably in the popular culture.. cartoons, comic books, movies. How else does every Canadian kid know about George Washington and the cherry tree, but can't name Canada's first Prime Minister? *

Not that Canadians don't love their country.. we do. We usually even feel very smug and superior about it. We were just brought up differently. It's not in our culture to fly large flags.

Which way is better? Like I often tell the kids, it doesn't have to be a contest. There are many qualities I envy about the American experience. It imparts a sense of identity that Canadians might have too, but not in the same degree.

Living in Quebec adds another dimension to patriotism. In Quebec, opening one's mouth is a political statement, depending on which language comes out. Flying a Canadian flag is risky, even nowadays. In October, 1995, on the evening of the most recent referendum on Quebec Separation (which was lost by a miniscule margin) a rock came flying through our living room window. No we didn't have an actual flag although hubby's front license plate is a picture of one. But, we don't constantly live in a state of seige (although some imagine we do.)

This nice rambling entry started off with Thanksgiving in the U.S. and ended up with Quebec unrest. And to think I intended to write about friendships when I started. This process is truly fascinating.

More to come, soon, about friendships (hi Stephanie!) and more Quebec stuff too.

* - Sir John A. Macdonald

Yesterday's bowling scores: 129 145 106 (I got tired, ok?)
Last year's average: 132
This year's average: Working on it..

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