US Election coverage

The big thing this week was the election of Barack Obama. Sue and I, like many others, watched the election coverage on tv. We started out watching our local tv station – Global. But it was not long before we switched to BBC Canada. Somehow these landmark events need the cultured tones of a Dimbleby.

For anyone who grew up in the UK, the BBC is an automatic accompaniment to any big event. Probably that is true outside of the UK too. The BBC is far more global than our own Global TV will ever be.

It is one of those things that I miss from the UK – the BBC, good news coverage and good newspapers. Our local tv can be very folksy. Watching one of the news anchors being made up for halloween is a recent example of our news programming. What else was going on while Steve was being dressed up and having his make up applied?

As to the election result, so far I have not met anyone who is disappointed. Obama seems to be as popular north of the border as he is south of it. He has his work cut out for him, but we are all, it seems, ready for the change he promises.


Garden in North Vancouver all tricked out for Halloween
Garden in North Vancouver all tricked out for Halloween

I don’t really get halloween in Canada. Of course we did not have halloween in England – only a pale and uninteresting version of it ever made it across the pond. But here in Canada it is BIG.

Many homes have some halloween decorations outside – perhaps a pumpkin or three. Or some witch or scarecrow stood up by the door. All these are signals that the trick or treaters are welcome. But some people really go overboard on decorating their homes. The whole front yard becomes a graveyard, with headstones, witches, skeletons and the like arranged tastelessly around. Many have lights at night – that enhances the ghoulish experience.

One of my friends has a place that she’s been tricking out for days. Her husband does the lighting for rock bands but they still have to hire in extra lights and props. They have painted drop cloths that cover the whole front of the house turning it into a castle.

This is supposed to be for kids. And mostly it is. But adults seem to get a real thrill out of the whole thing. It is cute to see the little trick or treaters out on the 31st (and they don’t go out on other days). But adults and older kids will also have parties. Spending time and effort on the perfect costume.

The strange thing is the way such ghoulish themes – witches, monsters, ghosts and skeletons – are treated as normal. Kids see them everywhere. In the hospital wards, even the acute care wards, there are skulls and skeletons cheerfully adorning the walls. I guess it is not horror if it is so common place.

Enjoy you halloween candy.

Federal Election

Canadian politics is not very exciting. At least I cannot raise much interest in it. Watching the tv news here in Vancouver, I thought that I was not alone. One of the lead stories was about the failure of one of the polling stations to open on time. Disappointed voters were interviewed. Did I catch you yawning?

Voter turnout was also at a low – 59% set a new record low. Perhaps we are tired of the regular elections and minority governments. As one friend of mine said, Canadian political parties and politicians seem almost interchangeable. I guess we will not see much change as a result of our continuing Conservative minority government.

Well, I did go out to vote. Civic duty, combined with walking the dog, allowed me to be a good citizen and a responsible pet owner at the same time. The polling station seemed fairly well attended and there were a lot of people hanging around and chatting to their friends and neighbours. Most were combining their duty with other things – jogging, back from the grocery shopping or whatever. One lady I passed on my way back seemed to have made this into a special occasion. She was dressed most elegantly, especially in comparison to your dog walking author!

Happy Thanksgiving

This holiday is a family one with families gathering around the (groaning) table to enjoy the feast. All across the country, children return from their universities to visit with their folks.

For us, Alice is the first of our children to be away from home at university. She is not the first to go to university as her two older sisters, Laura and Gwen stayed at home as they went to Capilano College (now University) in North Vancouver.

The roads, ferries and airlines must be packed with kids traveling this weekend. All looking forward to home cooked meals and meeting up with their high school buddies.

In some cases they are also returning to see their girl or boy friend – the one they left behind when they went away. Often these reunions are not so good – so much so the relationship comes to a sudden end. This is known as the turkey dump!

Alice will not have that to fear since there was no boy pining for her whilst she was away (not that we know of anyhow). The worst she has to fear is my cooking – as Sue and Laura are still in the UK for the last Emigrate Show.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving turkeys

Pumpkins for Thanksgiving or Halloween
Pumpkins for Thanksgiving or Halloween

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving [which is not the same as the American one]. You might think that it is a peculiarly north american thing. You’d be both right and wrong.

Right, because we are in north america. And our big neighbour to the south has won all the publicity about their thanksgiving traditions. Thanks to them, you probably already know that thanksgiving is a celebration dating back to the pilgrim fathers and their feast on surviving their first year in the new world. They kindly invited the native americans to enjoy the feast too. So a very American festival that Americans now celebrate almost more than Christmas [Not the PC term – sorry].

You would be wrong, at least a little bit, Canada’s thanksgiving is rooted in European tradition. It started out as a harvest festival. Just like the harvest festivals that are still celebrate across Europe. And, despite our poor record in getting the message out, Canada started their tradition way earlier than our cousins to the south. In fact the first thanksgiving is said to have been in 1578 when Martin Frobisher marked his safe arrival in Newfoundland with a feast.

Canada continues to celebrate thanksgiving before the US does – ours is held on the 2nd Monday of October. The US holiday is the 4th Thursday in November.

It is still a feast of gluttony. Think Christmas dinner with pumpkin pie instead of Christmas pud.

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