Yesterday felt historic, like a turning point in our great nation's identity. The entire country was watching the gold medal men's hockey game between Canada and the US. There was bad blood from the US spanking us earlier in the round robin tournament, yet that loss incited our team to rise up and trounce every upcoming opponent, and made for one hell of a match-up in the final game. It was winner take all, with an extra poetic layer that Canada would beat the all-time gold medal record for any nation at the Winter Olympics if we were triumphant. For a country who has struggled to define our own global identity as anything other than "not American", with these Olympics we have found our footing and emerged as a fun-loving nation with a serious patriotism that is uniquely our own.
I loved the experience of watching the third period and the nail-biting overtime as a family of four. Our kids were as excited as we were, and when Sid the Kid blasted the puck into the net during overtime, we screamed and clapped and high-fived until we were hoarse. It was the buoyant excitement of Christmas morning combined with the levity of history being made. We stood up to our neighbours to the south and said, "This is our game. This is our ice. This is our national pride." It felt like a defining moment; one we can't ever turn back from. These Olympics have brought us all together in a way the world hasn't seen before, and indeed Canadians haven't even felt this way before. It's a new page in our story. I like what I see and how I feel. Congratulations are in order for Vancouver, who gave the world a Winter Olympics to remember, and united a nation to believe in herself and be proud of who we are.
The beginning of the closing ceremonies was brilliant, with our trademark self-deprecating humour on centre stage as we highlighted the gaffe with the fourth arm to light the cauldron. Other countries may have preferred to forget that moment, but we chose to laugh at ourselves. We also highlighted mounties, beavers and moose as a tongue-in-cheek joke about how the world views Canadians. I wonder if other countries were baffled by some of those things, but the point was that WE got them. We laughed, felt happy, and insanely proud to be Canadian.
Jason went to the grocery store for bread to eat with our lasagna, and he came home with a chocolate cream pie to celebrate. It fit the mood to a T. We ate, let the kids stay up late, and watched the closing ceremonies together (at least until I realized my advanced age when watching those young bands and singers I had never heard of that sounded a bit like cats being strangled). It was a night to remember a country coming of age, developing confidence in her own identity, and banding together shoulder-to-shoulder to realize we are all proud to call ourselves Canadians.