Maxed Out 

A time to celebrate… Whatever

By G.D. Maxwell

Whatever you may think of our cousins to the south – those people who inhabit the United States of America and have usurped the generic term "Americans" to so exclusive a degree nobody else on either of the continents bearing the name can use it – you have to give them credit for one thing. They have managed to create a long weekend holiday when one is so desperately needed: February.

While I’ve always enjoyed the shortest, darkest month, containing as it does the twin traumas of both Valentine’s Day and my birthday, I fully understand why a majority of people, especially Canadians, voted it Suicide Prevention Month. February can suck. February, short as it is, cries out for a holiday.

Canada, country of winter, home of hockey, land of frozen expanses, Sergeant Preston – may he rest in peace – igloos and block heaters, has failed miserably to devise an official holiday to celebrate that which, to an extent far beyond anything in the fabric of history, defines the culture Canadians try so hard to protect. Clearly, Canada should have first dibs on any winter holiday in the Western Hemisphere. Winter is to Canada what the right to bear arms is to the US: inalienable, absolute, seminal, indelible. Winter forged all that followed in the True North Brrrave and Free.

Except for North Dakota, which may as well be a part of Manitoba for all Americans care about it, and Alaska, a garage sale purchase from a cash-starved Russia, winter in the coldest parts of the States would be considered bikini weather in Regina. And in many parts of the USofA, winter is tropical enough to lure sun-starved Canucks by the hundreds of thousands who have, in turn, infected Florida, Arizona and Southern California with professional hockey teams, our greatest cultural export.

To let the US beat Canada to the punch in proclaiming a winter long weekend is a shame too long allowed to go unanswered. The problem, of course, is that we can’t think of or agree to any one thing to celebrate. It was easy for the Americans to hammer together the birthdays of two of their most revered presidents and give the nation a day off on the third Monday in February.

For years, the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were troublesome. I mean, unless you’re Canadian, you can’t not celebrate the birth of the Father of your Country. It’s just not done. And Abraham Lincoln reached into the raging fires of separation and civil war, held the country together and then selflessly gave his life so that every man who followed might have a good excuse for not accompanying his wife to the theatre when he could, as easily, stay home and watch Monday Night Football.

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