I did not have time to watch much of the Olympics, even missed the Gold Medal hockey game because I was driving home from Reboot2.0. What a saw was an astonishing Opening Ceremonies and with it the gift of poetry and humanity and being Canadian that is Shane Koyczen. Then the magnificence of k.d. lang interpreting Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah as only she can do.
What I saw in the Closing Ceremonies was that classic unmistakable Canadian understatement of patriotism as we poked fun at our foibles. The fun of the flame lighting fiasco of the Opening Cermonies finally being fixed and still celebrated was quintessential Canadian. Then the self-depricating fun of the parade of Canadian stereotypes from moose to Mounties all the way to beavers and beer and beyond. In typical Canadian fashion we did ourselves proud by being humble. That Canadian quality of quiet deep pride was shown as we stayed humble and reserved while setting a new host country record 14 of gold medals relieved from our collective self-consciousness as being the only host country ever to not win a single gold medal pre-Vancouver.
What sparked this post was an e-mail I received form a friend enclosing a closing comment from Brian Williams of the NBC, the American Olympic broadcaster. Canadians don't seek or need external validation to know and love who we are, but it is always nice to get recognized, especially in a way that resonates with us. Here is what Brian Williams said about us and our hosting of the world at the Vancouver Olympics:
Leaving behind a thank-you note
Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor
to-night's broadcast and after looting our hotel mini-bars, we're going to try to brave the blizzard and fly east to home and hearth, and to do laundry well into next week. Before we leave this thoroughly polite country, the polite thing to do is leave behind a thank-you note.
Thank you, Canada:
For being such good hosts.
For your unfailing courtesy.
For your (mostly) beautiful weather.
For scheduling no more than 60 percent of your float plane departures at the exact moment when I was trying to say something on television.
For not seeming to mind the occasional (or constant) good-natured mimicry of your accents.
For your unique TV commercials -- for companies like Tim Hortons -- which made us laugh and cry.
For securing this massive event without choking security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon.
For having the best garment design and logo-wear of the games -- you've made wearing your name a cool thing to do.
For the sportsmanship we saw most of your athletes display.
For not honking your horns. I didn't hear one car horn in 15 days -- which also means none of my fellow New Yorkers rented cars while visiting.
For making us aware of how many of you have been watching NBC all these years.
For having the good taste to have an anchorman named Brian Williams on your CTV network, who turns out to be such a nice guy.
For the body scans at the airport which make pat-downs and cavity searches unnecessary.
For designing those really cool LED Olympic rings in the harbor, which turned to gold when your athletes won one.
For always saying nice things about the United States...when you know we're listening.
For sharing Joannie Rochette with us.
For reminding some of us we used to be a more civil society.
Mostly, for welcoming the world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us.
So my fellow Canadians, next time you visit a Chapters bookstore and you see the sentiment on the wall, "The world needs more Canada" reflect for a moment and know it is true.