Thursday, March 4, 2010

Past Deadline: Learning About Patriotism

Watching the coverage and the Canadian response to our Olympics has been interesting.
From the apologetic beginnings to the triumphant finish, it’s hard to argue that the country didn’t swell with pride and a new (or at least renewed) sense of patriotism. It’s also typically Canadian that some of us are a tiny bit uncomfortable with or uncertain about feeling that way.

Something else the Olympics did was further galvanize the fact we are a hockey nation. Sorry, that should be Hockey Nation, right? That’s where things get a little weird for me. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I was really born in this country or if my parents deprived me of some special elixir as a child because, seriously folks, I just don’t live for hockey.


I know, I know. I fear this makes me appallingly unCanadian and, yet, there isn’t much I can do about it. Now, that being said, I felt compelled to watch almost all of the third period of the legendary men’s game on Sunday afternoon. I even hid my face behind a piece of paper during the last minute of play in that period, fearing that what happened would actually happen – a goal to tie it up.

My heart pounded and I felt all clammy and nervous as my oblivious children wandered nearby and worked diligently to distract me from the historic event. “Just wait, guys, I NEED to watch the last few minutes of this game!”

Possibly mine was the only eight-year-old boy in Canada who was not glued to the TV set along with the rest of the Hockey Nation, but he was busy playing with light sabres with his little sister. They were both periodically pestering me for food, too. Some nerve. I mean, as IF I could possibly pause to provide sustenance for young children. I mean, really! (Dear authority figures: I’m kidding.)

As happy as I was that our guys brought home a gold, that particular gold carried no more weight to me than any other gold won by any other athlete in any other sport. I mean, I was glued to the hockey just as I had been glued to several random speed skating events or snowboarding or ski jumping or bobsledding or curling or any other sport that happened to be on TV when I had some time to watch it.

Except, of course, that I really couldn’t bear another “so close” moment in Canadian Olympic performance because THIS particular gold was our last chance to break that all-time gold medal record at Winter Games – the most of any nation.

Yeah! That is awesome!

So, yes, I was caught up in the pull of that national hockey tide and I even said, “Ooh!” and “Aaaah!” and “Yes!” and “Noooo!” with the crowd in the appropriate places, which is unusual for me when it comes to hockey because a) I don’t know all the rules and b) I’m easily distracted.

Unfortunately, one of my oblivious children managed to distract me just as Sid the Kid scored his golden goal, so I missed it “live.” Happily, it has been possible to catch it once or twice or a kazillion times on the replay.

And then, feeling all Olympic-like (and guilty), I donned my rocket shoes and went for a run, whereupon I proudly and excitedly waved to every flag-waving pick-up truck I saw cruising the downtown streets (well, there was only one, but it IS a small town, right?). I even hollered “Go Canada!” to a lady I know, who then told me she’d seen a senior citizen yelling much louder than I was a little earlier.

So maybe I’m not quite there yet when it comes to unbridled patriotism. It occurred to me partway through the run that I should have been wearing a Canadian flag cape. Then again, I probably don’t need to draw more attention to myself as I stagger breathlessly up and down the street.

In any event, whether you scream it loudly or say it softly, “Yay, Canada!” Congrats to all of our athletes and to the Games’ organizers for a great show!


Monnik said...

This is a great post, Steph. Interesting perspective on patriotism, since I live right smack in the middle of "Drape the flag on your window and scream GOD BLESS AMERICA" land.

I am not a hockey fan at all, but watched the last few minutes of regulation, and the OT period. What an exciting game. I was fine with the ending, and for once, my husband, who is one of those overzealous patriotic types shrugged off the loss. "Better to lose to Canada than anyone else," he said. That's saying a lot, for him.

Steph said...

Thanks, Monnik! It's so funny to hear Canadian commentators carrying on about how - omigosh - patriotic we are being! It's like we've grown a third eye or something!