I love being Canadian now, but it's only in the last few years that I fully appreciated what it means to be a Canadian. When I was younger, I wanted to be an American. I was always drawn to the take-no-prisoners, hard-charging attitude of our friends to the south.
It appealed to my own crazed power complex to be an American. I thought of Canadians as meek and mild, stepped on by others, and too socialist. The US brand of capitalism was like a magnet to my young adult idealism. I wanted to prove to the world that I could be rich and successful, and do it on my own terms.
I viewed Canada as a country of people trying to blend in; to underachieve so the individual would not stand out from the group. I wanted to stand out, so I chose to attend universities in the US, and planned to stay on in Los Angeles to make movies. Unfortunately, US immigration had other ideas, and with some intense disappointment I returned to Canada as a 20 year old who preferred to be American.
At 23, I met Jason and fell madly in love. He loves Canada, spouting off various facts about our nation with obvious pride. We would engage in long debates about the benefits of the US versus Canada. I was idealistic to the extreme, preferring to praise capitalism without any regard for the dark underbelly of homelessness, poverty, and a medical system which routinely bankrupts the middle and lower classes.
Slowly I began to develop an appreciation for Canada as I matured into my roles of wife and mother. I started to see how positive many of our national attributes are. We are internationally known for our manners, our willingness to help our fellow man, and our sharp, irreverent wit and ability to laugh at ourselves.
The 2010 Winter Olympics really solidified us as a country. We were thrust into the world spotlight, and we showed ourselves as kind and smart and worthy. I was never more proud to be a Canadian than this past winter. I have many American friends, and I love them dearly, but now when we debate politics or healthcare, I am firmly on the Canadian side of the argument.
We are blessed to live in this free nation. My kids will take it for granted, this freedom and safety they experience on a daily basis simply because of the country they were born in. It's a wonderful place to live, filled with kind and conscientious people. Happy Birthday, Canada. Thank you for this wonderful nationality that I possess. I don't take it lightly, or for granted. I am grateful.