Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Glowing Hearts

The airport in Vancouver has cleared, but it feels like Canada is still on a collective buzz.

Even me, the girl who thinks barrel racing should be an Olympic sport but be televised annually, me who doesn't really get sports.  I who wonder if the event damages the land and causes pollution.  I watched eagerly.

Part of it for me, actually most of the appeal, is the story behind the athletes.  I like the human drama.  I love seeing the short features on TV about the people in a star athlete's life, the support and drive and inspiration that go into years of training.  I admire that perseverance these people carry with them.  Any of us can use that.  It takes bravery.

Joannie Rochette, who grieved for her mother while skating her way to bronze.  

I love the characters this brings out!  

Jon Montgomery (who my kids have enthusiastically named JONNYMONTY) our gold medal winning skeleton racer, who did the best victory walk ever through the town of Whistler with a pitcher of beer in hand, high-fiving, hugging, signing babies and throwing the finger cannons!

He's an auctioneer from Manitoba.  This guy rocks so chill.  We're fans.

Okay, so I didn't get to watch much the last week because I was at the house in town with no TV.  I still haven't watched the tape of the closing ceremonies.  And I think I was one of maybe ten Canadians who didn't watch The Hockey Game.

I was loading the Jetta with boxes to move to the farm when I heard happy shouts around the neighbourhood, and car alarms going off.  Yep, that would be the sound of a gold medal... within minutes cars were cruising around tooting horns and spilling yelling passengers out the windows.

I don't know if anyone who isn't Canadian can really understand how badly "we" WANTED IT.  I mean, even people like me who say they don't care really, really wanted to win hockey gold in Canada.

I never thought of us as being a particularly patriotic nation.  I wouldn't want to live in any other country in the world and am thankful for the luck that had me born in this country, but figured we just don't really make a big deal.  We don't make big deals out of much of anything.  Except maybe hockey.  And not me.  Canadians seem like the kind of people who don't brag up our country but won't let anyone talk mean about it.


It's not true.

We're patriotic.

We just maybe didn't realize it.

I think part of it comes from being the dorky little sister in the North American family.  We're younger.  We are often overshadowed by our glamorous, outgoing and extroverted big brother, America.  Sometimes we're kinda jealous of America cuz he gets all the attention and everybody seems to like him better.  But then every now and then we get some kind of validation that yes, we are liked too, you like us, you really like us!

We go out of our way to prove that we are Canadian.  We're not American or British.  We spell COLOUR with a U in it, but we drive on the right side of the road.

The speed-skating Hamelin brothers finally got their gold in the relay.  We like them.  They're cute too.

We crack jokes about our Canucky image.  We tell people from the southern states that we live in igloos and ride snowmobiles to work, then chuckle about it.  We invite our politicians onto our comedy shows.

Buble!  He's funny.  Anybody catch him and Colbert mash two national anthems?  Who knew the words would fit the music like that?  

We have an annoying habit of creating stars we can't really support, who move to Los Angeles, and then we want to remind everyone that they're OURS.  (Except in Quebec- there's a star system!)

Yep, Alanis.  She's one of ours.

So is Michael J Fox.  Anybody see him cheering at hockey games?

And, SHATNER!  He's one of ours too!!

Every Olympic year, the debate comes up: why aren't our athletes doing better?  We're not a third world country, shouldn't we be hauling in the medals like Russia and Germany and the USA?

Yeah, we don't want to be them, but we want to keep up with them... and most of Canada does an eye-roll while the rest start bawling about wanting to be included.  Some of us snidely remark that we don't have the money to spend on athletes when we're giving away life-saving medical procedures, labour and delivery, and visits to the doctor's office for free.  Actually, that was me who made that remark in Sunday school last week.  Yep, I said it.

Vancouver is the third time we held an Olympics in Canada.  Until 2010, no Canadian had ever won a gold medal in the home country.

Also the men's hockey team got spanked last time around...

There was a huge push to get some action this time.  We were inundated with "Do You Believe" ads and ran a crazy zigzagging torch run that got within an hour's drive of 95% of Canadians homes.  Canada went into this thing like we meant business.

You know, I'm the person who cheers for the underdog.  Heck, I generally am the underdog.  But I admit, I wanted this.  I wanted some national self esteem and I wanted the world to come away from this two week event feeling like Canada knows how to party.

So.  Did we succeed????

I feel pretty good about it!

How could I not?

(More gold medals than any host country ever?  Records broken?  So many firsts I forget?)

But because I'm Canadian (and also a mostly-modest Mennonite and all that) I'm not going to make too big a deal out of it!

Years from now, my country will still claim some pretty great memories, but I doubt this hot streak of success will last forever.  Why should it?  It's not natural to stay on top permanently.  We'll be losers again.  And then we'll kick ass again.  It's what we do.

Also, you may have noticed that we love us a good party, and the best way to party Canadian style is to throw a big honkin rock concert.

Come on, you KNEW there would be Nickeback!  And, PYRO!  We can't throw it down properly without the world's favourite rock n roll hosers!

I heard Neil Young was the last act of the night.  Were there any dry eyes left at that point?

I do love this country, despite its huge flaws and problems.  Now, I must get on my dog sled, mush over to the Tim Horton's to get some coffee and donuts, put some maple syrup on it, then share a beer with a moose.  Eh?

The mittens even Oprah couldn't keep her hands out of!  I love these.  Annyong has a pair.  So does Grandma.  

Hey World, hope you enjoyed the party!!!  I know I did!


Sydney said...

So I totally have a pair of those mittens and I totally could go for an iced capp right now the only thing is I am an easy 20 minute drive from any Timmies D: So here goes to living in the asscrack of the world, Ontario Canada! I shall be caffeine free one more night!

There were riots in Windsor and they shut the streets off downtown. My friend called me from Toronto where her and her boyfriend were going for a weekend and she said literally everyone she passed high fived here and every three people or so tried to hand her a beer. Hahah funny how hockey, high fives and beer go together here.

Heidi Willis said...

I LOVE this recap and personal account of the Olympics. I heard that the head (Prime Minister?) told Canadians that they usually don't make a big fuss, but that for two weeks he wanted them flag waving and cheering...and then they could apologize for their immodesty to the world later.

That made me howl with laughter!! We Americans are so uncouth that way. Enthusiastic and immodest... yeah, that's us.

But I love Canada, and I wouldn't say people love America more... lately it seems they hate us more. That's what we get for being loud and obnoxious, even if we are doing it out of national pride. :)

You had some great athletes, and great stories, this time around. And I covet those mittens!! So cool!

And if we had to lose to anyone in Hockey, I'm glad it was you. :)

Go ahead... bask away.

Heidi the Hick said...

Heidi, I didn't even hear that from the Prime Minister! That's funny and so true. (I'm not even a big fan of his to be honest but good one!)

I think our national stereotypes sometimes only show the worst of us (ie Americans = obnoxious, Canadians= wimpy, English= proper) and really overlook the truth! I think it's good for Canadians to shake it up a little and wave some flags!

Then apologize.

Of course.

(And it's obvious only team USA was an equal match, maybe the only equals!)

AND THE MITTENS! They really are awesome. I loved seeing the outfits at the Olympics!

Sydney, you really must be out in the asscrack if you're 20 m away from a Timmies! Where we are we can zip down the highway and get to a Horton's in about 5 minutes. Which is good because my husband would suffer greatly without. He'll move out to the country but he can't be more than 10 m away from his coffee!

Yeah I heard about the Toronto street party. I was glad to hear it was peaceful and happy! High fives and beer!

jules said...

I want those mittens too! I totally get you Heidi. I watched the last of the hockey game, and even though I hoped the US would win, I was REALLY! REALLY! glad that Canada got the gold. You guys did GREAT! More gold medals than anyone. That's terrific. I'm glad the games are over tho. Those late nights were really creating havoc on my day job.

pseudosu said...

We DO really like you. Most of my friends kind of with they WERE Canadian-- but then again, we're border-dwelling freaks.

You forgot to mention KD Lang and Fiona Apple (she sang your national anthem at the opening ceremonies right? AMAZING voices!)

Good for you guys on the hockey. No one here I know of was pissed. Way to go little sis!

Four Dinners said...

I confess to being highly delighted for Canadians...and, indeed Americans, for gaining lots of medals.

I have no idea in what they gained them as I didn't watch it...never the less...congratulations where they are due.

I believe even Great Britain got a medal courtesy of some female lunatic hurtling along on something akin to a few metal bars soldered together.

Never mind.

The important stuff is only 100 days away.

The World Cup.

I firmly believe that England will win...as surely as they will fail abysmally...but in 100 days we get true sport!

Humour me..I'm male and English...;-)

Curiosity & Joy said...

whoop whoop olympics.
i'm more excited that you're coming to visit next month!!!
can you here me holler!!!?!
kevin's wife