Canadians kind of need permission, or an invitation, or a valid reason to expound on, well, Us, Canadians, and what we can do, and do well, year in and year out.
If you tune into any one of the major news networks, you will be hard pressed to see any Canadian being interviewed spouting the words, “I’m a Canadian!”, “I’m proud to be a Canadian!”, “Canadians are the Best!” - you just won’t see these words escape any of our mouths on a regular basis. But if you gave MsBurb a nickel for every time she heard on American new networks, “I’m an American!”, “I’m proud to be an American!”, “Americans are the Best!”, “God Bless America!”, this blog would end because MsBurb could retire and be on her yacht at the port of Marbella already! “Why don’t Canadians regularly boast?”, you ask?
Because we are sedate by nature and have maintained British mannerisms of what is publicly acceptable behaviour and what is not.
To expound, to boast, to brag, is not just poor manners to us Commonwealth’ers but often demonstrates to us quite the opposite, that the one who constantly expounds is actually experiencing a crisis of conscience, that possibly the repetition of stating that one is the Best, will in effect, make it so, when in reality the boaster knows the fallacy of such a statement…
So, as the Vancouver Winter Olympics got off with less than a bang and more of a fart (opening ceremonies glitches and initial competitors less-than stellar efforts), most Canadians took it all in stride - we’ve never said we’re perfect but what we lack in perfection is more than made up for in heart – and we continued to watch and wait and support our team, knowing that we would eventually succeed, and if we didn’t, we’d be damn proud of our Olympians anyway…
We gathered in pubs and in family rec rooms.
We drank beer out of cans and bottles and ate pretzels and party mix.
We wore well-used hockey shirts that were soon stained with beer and pretzel dust.
We watched all the events, flipping between channels, the remotes soon sticky with beer and pretzel dust too.
And we cheered, maybe not necessarily for the realization of Gold, as we have never put being First more important than being Best, but for the appropriate opportunity to raise our flag and cheer at just being thrilled to be Us.
Oh, and by the way, our flag, nope, you won’t see it draped just anywhere at anytime.
We don’t bring’em out on any holiday or bar-be-que Sundays. You won’t see’em waved in just any parade or perched in pegs on our front doorsteps just willy-nilly.
We KNOW the preciousness of that rectangular piece of silk.
That piece of silk has been draped on many a Canadian soldier’s coffin, without the glorified propaganda often showered on Americans lost in war. What do you hear most? The deadly battle on Omaha and Utah Beach in WWII or that the first allied forces on D-Day were from the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and that the deadly Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s last gasp at an offensive, was fought and won by mostly Canadians? You tell me.
Nope, they’re brought out only for special occasions, and for these last ten days, they slowly began to appear, first on the streets of Vancouver, then in Canadian pubs and rec rooms, growing slowly but steadily, one Red & White streak of silk-weaved pride after another…
We, as always, kept our patriotism and our national pride close to our chest. We didn’t expound, even after our first Gold Medal was one. We cheered of course, and we waved our flag but you would still be hard pressed to find us bragging ad nauseum on national news networks…
As if by divine osmosis, the athletes themselves started to absorb our cheers and they began to sense that no matter what medal they brought home, or not, we were THRILLED to have them represent our country to the world…no matter, we said, we whispered unconsciously to our team…and they heard and felt our whispers and support…no matter…
Then as if by magic, the pressure on our Olympians to gain Gold washed away, and one by one, what did they do? Free of expectations that other countries place on their Olympians, our Olympians started to gain Gold…one by one…
As the days wore on, and talk around the water cooler increased, that possibly, beyond being one of the most privileged countries on the globe, we indeed might just be Number One as well as being one of the Best.
More beer runs were made, more wives went scurrying to the grocery store for bulk packages of pretzels and party mix and in rec rooms all over this nation, rug shampooers would be the order of the day after these ten days were done.
The Gold Medal count continued to rise, yet our cheers were felt by those Olympians well before the Gold came. Flags were now creeping outside, on to porches and poles.
Vancouver streets were now awash in Red & White and our nation was now showing the pride and patriotism we had always had but kept close to our chest, being British after all, it was demanded of us.
And then it happened.
We beat the United States in Gold Medals.
An unheard of feat and the realization shook us all.
After all, the major news networks on a daily basis constantly remind us Canadians what we can’t possibly be because Americans definitely are…”We’re American!”, “I’m an American!”, “America is the best nation on earth”, “I am a patriotic American!”, “God Bless America!”, etc., etc.
Americans came from British roots too but when they formed their own country, they must have forgotten what they were taught in the British Finishing School for Manners. Nope, no news day in the States is ever complete without the world constantly viewing an interview by an American expounding on being American…
We Canadians are used to it really. We only take notice if a news day goes by that we don’t see an American expounding…
CNN and Fox were basically silent on the Olympics and if they reported that we Canadians finally beat them in Gold, MsBurb must have missed that news cast.
Americans wave flags and cheer for themselves every other day. And when some of their Americans lost Gold, the cheers and the flag waving seemed to subside?
The tenth and final day of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics came this last Sunday.
The last competition was Hockey.
Hockey is Canada’s game.
Basketball, although it was Canada who INVENTED that sport, the U.S. claimed for their own, but Hockey is ours.
The Americans make fun of Hockey.
The Americans make fun of Canadians.
But Hockey is as Canadian as Maple Syrup and The Bay Blanket.
The semi-final game against Slovakia went so pathetically bad for Canada, I and other nay-sayers felt sure than Canada would bring home Silver to the States’ Gold in the finals.
But it didn’t matter to us.
We kept sporting those flags on Robson Street and in our rec rooms.
The beer kept being swilled and the pretzel dish seemed bottomless.
We Canadians missed a shower or two, the men’s shaving routine was thrown out with the empty beer cans and we wouldn’t let our Moms or wives wash our Hockey shirts until the die was cast.
And we watched and we had fun and we supported our team…no matter…as always…
The U.S. and Canadian teams were very closely matched.
We went into Over-Time.
Being on the edge of our seats wasn’t good enough anymore.
We as a nation, were standing up now, and no HD TV available had a screen big enough to accommodate all of our stares.
Iginla to Crosby…and a sloppy, hurried and hopeful but effective slap of the puck into the side of the U.S. net. CANADA WINS THE GOLD! CANADA WINS THE GOLD! CANADA WINS THE GOLD!
There couldn’t have been more jumping-up-and-down, waving-back-and-forth Red & White if a red tide was washing in on Long Beach, Vancouver Island! Canada kept fourteen gold medals from leaving this country. Canada won more Gold Medals than the U.S. Canada broke the Olympic Record for the most Gold Medals won by a Host Nation. Canada, for those last ten days, and for just a moment in time, was not only the Best Nation - we were the Best winning nation. Canada finally had permission to tell the rest of you that we are indeed, the Best.