Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Most Canadian Thing We've Ever Done

This post was meant to be posted in February. I typed the title, then got sidetracked. Driving to Ottawa turned out to be a setback, and between that, work, and life I never finished.

Each year since the first Family Day weekend we have traveled to Ottawa for Winterlude. The first year was accidental. I was trailing on business to Montreal and Ottawa. Sean came to join me in Montreal for Shabbat, and then onto Ottawa. We met up with friends there. My family enjoyed the new Family Day while I had meetings. We returned with those friends the next year.  We stay in a suite hotel near the canal, sharing Shabbat. We walked to the downtown synagogue. Saturday night we'd tour the ice sculptures in Confederation Park. Sunday, we'd head to Gatineau. We ate Beavertails and maple taffy. We drank hot cocoa and scotch.

As the years have passed, the group has grown, and so has the popularity of Winterlude. The children are old enough that we travel with our own minyan. One family in the group owns a Torah, and we share the responsibilities for t'fillot and reading. The crowds also grow each year as Family Day has become ingrained in our calendar. This year, motzei-Shabbat we headed out to see the ice sculptures as usual. We were greeted with rope lines to control the crowds. While standing on line (Yes, I know. If I were really Canadian, I'd say "in line.") one of the teens (also American by birth) described our actions as "the most Canadian thing we've ever done." Here we were, standing on line, in the freezing cold, politely without any pushing. There was an occasional jostle, always followed by "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me."

At this moment our friend shared a story. In a class, with a professor trying to illustrate the differences in regional dialects, the professor asked the students "if you were waiting for a bus, what would you be doing?" Generally there were two answers, "standing in line" or "standing on line." One student, a New Yorker, responded differently. To the question, "if you were waiting for a bus, what would you be doing?" He replied, "Pushing." I'm a New Yorker. To me, and to our American friends, this was an unusual scene, but as we looked on we realized, this was the most Canadian thing we've ever done. In true Canadian fashion, we waited patiently. Took in the sculptures, snapped pictures, and headed over to the Beavertails booth.