Ah, the first week in July… normally, without COVID-19, it would be a week to celebrate proud patriotism in the streets by waving flags and cheering on parades.
It looked a little different this year, didn’t it?
And I say week-long, because our brothers and sisters from the United States would normally kick off the celebration with us until the skies were filled with fireworks on July 4th.
My aunt and uncle used to have cabin in Montana, and I remember getting funny looks when I would tell people I was going down to the USA to celebrate Canada Day.
But that celebration was always bigger, and dare I say, a little better than what I would get in my hometown.
There were fireworks lit up over the Flathead Lake on July 1st – a nightly ritual that would last all night long until Independence Day.
The local parade had a mixture of Canadian and American-themed floats too.
You know, as a kid I was just blindly aware that there were differences between the two countries; based on what I saw while watching their television shows, I assumed we were all the same.
We looked the same… dressed the same… listened to the same music… and for the most part, we ate the same foods.
Then in my teenage years, all I wanted to do was move to the United States.
I guess their tag line “the land of opportunity,” really did work on me.
Everything was constantly flogged to be “bigger” and “better.”
That, and you could never find Salted Nut Rolls anywhere in the Great White North.
After noticing a difference or two, I would tell my friends that living in the United States and living in Canada was like going to a wild, out of control party or staying home on a Saturday night to do a puzzle.
Being 15 at that time, I did not want to stay home to do puzzles…
Today, I’m happy to be Canadian and lucky enough to be where I live – but I am starting to conclude that we are different in a sense, but perhaps in the way siblings can be different in their personalities or interests.
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Upon moving to Langley and taking a drive down 0 Avenue, I was flabbergasted to see no fence, only a ditch and a sign asking you not to cross.
Where else on Earth does that happen?
Now, with the border closed, people are lining either side of that ditch to visit with friends and family and loved ones and neighbours.
The unique solution touched me deeply and illustrated all that is good and positive between both countries when we work together and there is nothing but love and a desire for connection driving us.
Yes, I know the relationship is strained between our neighbours right now.
No, Americans should not be stopping in Banff or tourists hot spots right now for a bit of sightseeing if they’re headed to Alaska.
But I know far too many people rejoicing in COVID case spikes across the border – rubbing their hands together in schadenfreude.
We’ve come too far alongside each other to be ripped apart my squabbling politics, contentious border closures, and viruses.
We’re more than just neighbours, we really are family after all and that is enough of a reason to put those small differences aside – at the very least, first week of July – and celebrate each other.
Happy Canada Day and happy Independence Day.
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