I come from a country where "patriotism" is synonymous with "beer commercial", and we identify ourselves primarily as being "not American". I found it an interesting comment on all of that when I met Paul, and he was so impressed that I didn't have a Canadian flag on my bag. "God, that's really annoying," he said. Couple that with the article Tom forwarded me about how American's see Canadians as boasting a lot, and it's been an interesting month for thoughts on patriotism.
If I'm asked what nationality I am, I always answer, proudly, Canadian. Back home, it's immediately qualified: "No, where is your family from?" Um, Canada. "No, no, no... What's your ascenstry?" I usually sigh at this point, and respond with: "We were Vandals. We sacked Rome." This usually shuts people up. Except History majors, who usually insist on telling me that I can't be a Vandal, they all died out. I ignore them.
I've started thinking a lot about being Canadian. I have a song that defines Canadians as "...we like to stand in line, and if you ask us how we're doing then we'll say 'Just fine!'." Which is true, I guess. We have this international identity as being "polite". We're "nice". We're "dull".
It's not that I've rejected that. Paul gives me a hard time over how polite I am, how I always say "thank you" and "please" and stuff like that. I've been told that friends don't say "thank you" in China, which I find strange. My advice to newly married couples is always "Don't forget to say Please and Thank You. Just because you're married doesn't mean you don't have to be polite to each other!".
But I've come up with a better definition of what makes someone a Canadian, especially overseas:
Canadians know how to dress for the weather.
I can't tell you how often I've had a varation of this conversation:
Lily: I am very cold out here!
Anna: Oh? I have an extra pair of gloves you can wear.
Lily: No, they are ugly.
Anna: Suit yourself.
Lily: I am very cold!
On the phone with Paul last night, we were talking about how cold he is trying to sleep. I mentioned that when it gets to cold out here, I just toss on a pair of sweat pants or a sweater or something.
His response: "How can you do that? That's so uncomfortable! I'd rather be cold!"
Then I listen to him complain about how cold he was last night. *sigh*
Me, I'm very rarely cold in China. If it starts to get cold, I put on a hat. If it gets really cold, I throw on my scarf. Occasionally I put on gloves. It just got cold enough here during the day to see your breath, and I heard from a friend that it's -19°C back in Edmonton. Which means it's warming up.
So, I'm a proud Canadian. I wear my cute little duck gloves with pride. Because I know how to dress for the weather.