On a snowy morning in April, my Canadian-born mother and American-born father struggled through the final hours of labor. At 7:35am on April 5th, I was born in a small apartment in Belleville, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
For five years my family moved: in and out of three Canadian cities and two provinces, until finally, shortly before I entered kindergarten, my father was offered a transfer. My dad was an employee of the Toronto-based Northern Telecom (later known as Nortel) and he and my mom jumped at the opportunity to try a warmer climate and better cost of living. We moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I have not lived in Canada since then, though I still have family there (grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins) and I travel there at least once a year.
The last week or so has had me thinking about being Canadian – the Olympics are going on in Vancouver so the spotlight has truly landed on Canada and has lingered in a way it rarely does. Certain circumstances: the death of a Georgian luger, flaws in the opening ceremonies and Vancouver weather and the Canadian hockey loss to the US, have inspired some frustration. Of course I am American; I know I live here. But I’m also Canadian and these Olympics have made me defensive of Canada. It’s unbelievably frustrating to hear the running commentary, the jokes (even those made with good intentions add up) and the criticism, and to feel like you’re the only one around to defend your team.
Because they ARE my team. I am Canadian. I have friends who tell me I’m not Canadian all the time and it drives me nuts. I know I don’t live there. I’m a wimp; I’d probably cry if I had to do a whole winter there. But I can vote there, I can own property there, I have lived there and I have a lot of people I love who live there. I know all the words to the Canadian anthem and I tear up for it the same as I do for the Star-Spangled Banner. There are parts of Canada that are as much home to me as anything on American soil. I feel better when I’m in Canada, as soon as I cross the border. And I want to see Canada win the gold medal for hockey so badly it hurts.
I know Canada has flaws – I hate their system of government, they’re practically socialist, they’ve got that French sliver in the middle and I’m not even going to bring up the weather. But I could write a book about what’s wrong with the US, too.
Canadian relatives have told me of their frustration with us Americans. We’re cocky and entitled, rash and bossy. And usually I feel bad- caught in the middle of two sides I love. Well this week, at least until the closing ceremonies, I’m all Canadian. I’m going to continue to be angry when NBC calls the US v. Canada hockey game a “clobbering” (it was 5-3!!!), I’m going to pray for some snow for Vancouver and I’m going to cheer for the Canadians to “own the podium“, even at the expense of the US. It’s Canada’s day and it’s been a pretty crummy one so far. Canada has been an ally, partner, defender and supporter of the US for hundreds of years. I’d really like to see the US appreciate them, or at least call a moratorium on the jokes for five minutes.