How Can You Dislike Canadian Things

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Whenever I hear other moms enthusiastically talk about their children’s hockey practice and how they are raising future NHL stars, I always fall dead silent. I just can’t bring myself to tell them that I absolutely hate that sport and will do anything possible to keep my kids uninvolved. I think it’s violent, cruel and pointless. When my husband watches a game on TV, I usually leave the room as I can’t even stand the loud, annoying voices of the commentators.

Then there is curling, the other famous Canadian sport. It’s ridiculous, if you ask me. How did that even get invented? Did someone in Manitoba who was sweeping snow off their driveway decide to turn a boring chore into a competitive game?

I know, I know, if I want to be a proper Canadian, I should be passionate about the national sports, or at least not disrespectful. I have to be honest though, I feel pretty much the same about everything else the typical Canadian tends to be proud of.

Don’t get me started on Celine Dion. A friend of mine who has a great voice offered to sing during my wedding. I was thrilled and asked her what songs she had in mind. When she listed three or four, all by the well-known Canadian songbird, I booked a DJ and never got back to her on the offer of live vocals during the ceremony. In fact, I have wondered if I could sue radio stations for playing her songs and doing damage to my ears.

And then there’s camping. If you want to be truly Canadian, you are supposed to love it. This country’s vast wilderness is famous all over the world, and I admit it is beautiful out there in all those Provincial Parks. However, I don’t understand the attraction of driving an SUV with a backpack and tent in the trunk and a canoe permanently attached to the roof rack. I am amazed at those who set out at every opportunity (even when it’s below -20 Celsius) to spend their time fishing, hiking or snow shoeing – although I do admit having married one and I happen to love him despite his crooked ideas of a proper vacation.

I’m a lazy beach bum at heart, and I like nice hotels with pools. I also find ancient cities with immense cultural background and architectural treasures fascinating. I definitely prefer to spend my holidays swimming with dolphins rather than being chased by mosquitoes.

Despite my preferences, I just returned from nine days at a camp site with a man, toddlers and in-laws. My back still hurts from all those nights of uncomfortable sleep in a tent, and my limbs are all swollen from insect bites.

Of course, I made a firm promise that I will never, ever be convinced to go on such a trip again. Mind you, I recall saying this last year as well, and the year before, and the year before that.

One could call me inconsistent, or one could just recognize that I’m trying really, really hard to become a Canadian, although my passport tells me that I’m still German. Therefore, I’m not genetically conditioned to get teary-eyed when “My Heart Will Go On” is playing.

I’m not smitten whenever Wayne Gretzky appears on the screen, and I’m certainly not inclined to endure the hardships of hiking a mile for fresh water or roasting food on the fire.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to love all this, to be the wife my husband probably envisions in his dreams, who would spend a year with him “off the grid” and carry a canoe on my back, wherever we go. I’d love to be excited to send my kids off to hockey camp one day and teach them about those couple hundreds of years that make up the history of this country. As things stand, I’m not even interested in the daily politics, and I still can’t name all ten provinces or their capitals. When I studied politics back in Germany, Canada never came up once.

What it really comes down to is the question, whether you can love Canada and fit into its society, even if you are a non-conformist in many ways. The answer is YES! You see, I’d fancy renting a cottage by a beautiful lake instead of flying off to the Caribbean for my holidays. I think Sarah McLachlan and Tragically Hip are great artists. I can’t wait for one of those cold, crispy days to go dog-sleddging with my family, and my heart is most likely going to swell with pride when I first watch my boys throwing basketball hoops (and Basketball is authentically Canadian, after all). I consider poutine a sadistic abuse of fries, but would happily bathe myself in Maple Syrup any day. Although Starbucks is great, Tim Horton’s is better – and more affordable. I truly believe one can be Canadian at heart without ever having caught a fish or ridden on a snowmobile. Most of all I believe that you should never have to worry about stating freely and openly when you just don’t like something that is commonly perceived Canadian, although you can probably do it in a more politically correct way than I just did.

After all, what I love most about this place is the fact that everybody respects your opinion, whatever it may be, and won’t judge you for it. I promise to learn from my own words and just tell those hockey moms next time that they’d better never ask me along to see their little protégés on the ice. I may even tell my musical friend that I love to hear her sing as long as she stays away from those Dion tunes.

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