Mmmmm…. I’m full of a very yummy Thanksgiving day. Well, the day filled me up with goodness and sweet friendship and the food filled my tummy with yumminess. So I’m full in an over all sense of the word. Yes, today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. And I’m very happy that it was a lovely snowless day. Can’t say as much for tomorrow… I think we’re supposed to get our first real flurries. The little foretaste we got last week didn’t really count.
So I’m compiling, in my mind, the things about living in Canada that I have fully gotten used to and the things that I’m not sure I will ever grow accustomed to.
- Weather – As the years have passed I have aclimatized quite well I think. The first years were particularly rough… getting accustomed to living in a country that has 7-8 months of wintery weather (and downright Arctic weather to someone from California) when you have 3 little ones all 3 and under can be… well… it can be just plain traumatic. I don’t recommend it. Wait to move here until your three younglings are old enough to #1 fasten their own coats and put on their own mitts and #2 to take them back off, go potty and put them all back on again before going out the door. But really, though our kids still take a couple of weeks to get used to putting their heavy coats on before they go outside (read: There is wailing and gnashing of teeth), we have for the most part gotten used to the weather here. And we have all decided that it beats Texas (sorry Texas!!! We still love you!) because you can always put on more clothes when it’s cold… but when it’s insanely hot and muggy you can only take so many clothes off before scandalizing (or blinding) everyone.
(^this was from last March.)
- Pronunciations – It’s funny because apparently, according to some of my friends and according to my Mom, I sometimes sound distinctly Canadian in my “accent.” I just don’t hear it but I do realize that means absolutely nothing since I don’t think I look a day over 20 either… and it’s really just because I’ve been with myself all along the way and have a hard time detecting the changes all that easily. To be quite clear, I do FEEL several days… years… possibly decades over 20. Okay, make that decade. Singular. But I just don’t feel like I have a Canadian accent. But then I hear my American family members say certain words that now sound funny to me… Roof for example. I think R-OO-F…. you know… with a very strong OO sound, like as unto “shoe” or “boot.” And when I hear my mom say it now it sounds more like “ruff.” And I will confess to you right now that ever since I went to University in Canada, way back when, “eh?” or “hey?” has been a regular part of my vernacular. I don’t leave home without it. But I have reserved the right to retain “y’all” as well because nothing works quite as well as “y’all” in so many situations. I know y’all agree with me eh?
My ears are accustomed to hearing words like “process” and “progress” pronounced with long O’s rather than short O’s though I still don’t naturally say them that way. I will tell you I prefer the way that Canadians call processed cheese, “Processed Cheese” as opposed to Americans calling processed cheese, “American Cheese.” I mean… I’m sorry but why would we as Americans claim this almost cheeseless cheese as our country’s signature cheese? It just doesn’t stand to reason. I mean, don’t get me wrong… it has its place. It’s great in grilled cheese sandwiches and such… and as my mother in law always said, “It melts beautifully!” But, I just don’t see wanting to slap our country’s name on it. If it were of the same calibur as Brie or Havarti I would think it worthy to put “American” on it it. Maybe some of you Wisconsonites can help me out here… don’t we as Americans have any other cheese that is unique to us that would be better suited for being formally named with our country’s great name?
I will never ever get used to calling the letter “Z” the letter “Zed.” I’m sorry. I just can’t. I love you Canada. I love you Canadians. You are my people. But I just can’t get used to it. I have however caved and begun saying it “Zed” when I give my postal code at the store and such because well, I have to answer enough questions like, “Are they all yours?” and “Wow! Four boys?” (NO, one of them is a girl… can you guess which one?!! (!!!!)) that I don’t really want to have to then answer the question “Are you American?” just because I say “Zee” when giving my postal code. I give you all my blessing to call it “Zed” whenever you are in the States though, just to mess with the Americans who never knew that Canadians called it “Zed.
- Holidays – I have completely gotten used to and even fully embrace the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving. I love it, in fact. I love it that if I wanted to have turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have had a long enough break from it by the time Christmas rolls around that I am actually looking forward to it again. I have to admit that this phenomena has led to my sort of forgetting to re-educate my children about the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and such each year as we were so fastidiously schooled as children. I don’t think my kids would know Myles Standish or Squanto from Adam. Well, maybe from Adam… but maybe not from any other early American settlers anyways.
I would be untruthful if I let on that Canada Day compares with The Fourth of July. It really doesn’t. While my primary place of citizenship is not tied to kings or governments or passports but to something infinitely greater, I do love my home country. And I love the celebrations and the festivities that mark America’s Independence Day. It’s the one holiday that I always love to be back home for. Christmas is God’s holiday and can be celebrated anywhere… same with Easter… Thanksgiving is a celebration of Thanks for God’s blessings and while it is tied in my mind partly to the historic celebration of the Pilgrims, the overarching purpose of it is Thanks for God’s blessings and that can be done anywhere also. But Fourth of July is something special that I miss celebrating when we are not home for it.
Easter… well, as much as the essence of it is celebrated most heartily here and the reason we celebrate will forever be, sometimes it’s just hard to get used to the facts… Christmas in Calgary is rarely snowy (just cold!) We tend to have brown Christmases here. But Easter? We’ve had many a white Easter. In fact I can hardly think of one Easter on which it was not snowy since we’ve lived here! The Easter of my childhood was bright and sunny and the beginning of Spring.
- Summer (wait… this goes up there with weather doesn’t it? Oh well.) – What I absolutely LOVE about Canada, our part of it at least, is that when Summer comes, the whole world seems to be outdoors! Everyone is OUT! Gardening, biking, walking, camping… Everyone busts out the shorts and bares their lily white legs, doing their best to get some much needed Vitamin D into their systems. I feel a strong sense of community when the weather begins to be nice once again. For so much of the year people spend a great deal of time indoors and in less contact with each other than during the warmer months so that when it begins to thaw everyone wants to be a part of it. So many more people garden here… everyone seems almost equally addicted to color (in the way of flowers) and life that there is a sudden rush on the garden center in mid-May… and everyone just prays that the last snow either already came or that it doesn’t stick around long enough to kill our baby plants!
I think people in other more temperate regions maybe take the weather for granted just a little bit more so they don’t fully enjoy it the way that Canadians do. I love how outdoorsy most Canadians seem to be. I don’t know… I could be wrong but my observation is that Canadians really know how to enjoy and appreciate nice weather. But I bet anyone who lives in a place where there is extreme weather of any kind for much of the year (extremely hot and muggy for example) may have a stronger appreciation for temperate weather when it comes around. Maybe it’s just jaded Californians like myself who don’t know nice weather when they have it!And I think that’s all for now. I love it here. This is home to me now… As much as California will always be “back home” to me, this is where I live, where I feel at home and where my life is. I can’t imagine it any other way even with all of the things that I may never get used to… I’m so thankful that by God’s grace He allows us to be at home anywhere where His people gather together and care for one another. Our church is my family here and they bless me routinely. I’m so very thankful to and for them for making Calgary home to me. As beautiful a place as it is, it would not feel like home if not for the wonderful people that love us and that we so dearly love.