Welcome to the sneak preview of the 2012-13 ski season. You've been waiting impatiently and, well, THIS IS IT! No, I don't mean that sodden, waiting around in the rain at the base of the mountain to skim over 25cm of Slurpee nonsense Saturday morning. I mean what's happening up on the mountain now: Snow, snow, snow.
Whistler "opened" last weekend. Nothing wrong with opening early with — let's be generous — more terrain than any three Ontario ski hills combined! Early opening is always a good sign. But, honestly, this is really just the season's amuse bouche, the teaser foreshadowing what's to come. I mean Whistler wouldn't be Whistler with just Whistler, would it? It wouldn't be Blackcomb either but thank the lord the town isn't called Blackcomb, like Canada needs another town with a weird name, e.g., Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, Chibougamau, Regina, Toronto.
Whistler without Blackcomb is like turkey without stuffing. Nourishing, but somehow lacking. A bouche without the amuse, and who needs another yapping bouche?
Fortunately, this bird's stuffing is coming. Good thing too. After all, our American friends — at least the ones comfortable spending time in the socialist paradise of Canada — are coming too.
That's because opening day on Blackcomb, and the official start of ski season, falls like clockwork on American Thanksgiving... at least until global warming forces it to fall on Christmas, a holiday in need of no national modifier.
Blackcomb's opening day is only called American Thanksgiving in Canada; in the U.S., it's called, well, Thanksgiving. Canadians call the holiday American Thanksgiving for much the same reason Canadians call Thanksgiving in Canada Canadian Thanksgiving. Canadians call Canadian Thanksgiving Canadian Thanksgiving because if they just called it Thanksgiving — like the Americans do — it would be confusing to other Canadians, and, like all things Canadian, confusing to Americans. If a Canadian were, for example, talking to another Canadian and said something like, "Hey, watcha doin' for Thanksgiving, eh?" the other Canadian will surely answer, "Canadian Thanksgiving or American Thanksgiving, eh?"
This makes no sense, of course. Canadian Thanksgiving comes early in October; American Thanksgiving comes late in November. Even Canadians know the difference between early October and late November; it's the difference between a baseball cap and a toque.
But what the anthropologically-inclined, cross-cultural observer has to understand is that Canadians are smart enough to understand whether we're talking about American Thanksgiving or Canadian Thanksgiving. We're just not secure enough to drop the national modifier. Living in the shadow of the giant as we do, we're hesitant to state unequivocally, even within their own borders, that there is one and only one Thanksgiving. It's really quite complicated and, after living here 25 years, I don't pretend to understand it. I simply acquiesce to get along, a very Canadian trait.
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