My mother is American, from a little town in the very northwestern corner of Minnesota, near the North Dakota & Manitoba borders -- & whenever we lived within a couple hours' drive of there, we would go to my grandparents' house for American Thanksgiving. I love turkey and having two Thanksgivings within less than two months (Canadians celebrate on what Americans mark as Columbus Day) was just fine with me. ; ) It's been many years since I've celebrated U.S. Thanksgiving, & it is our busiest time of year at work, so it was definitely no holiday for me today! but I think of it fondly!
However, it is a festive occasion of sorts in Canada this weekend. It's Grey Cup, the championship game of the Canadian Football League (also fondly known as "the Grand National Drunk"). Kind of like the Super Bowl, but usually a much more exciting game, or so we like to think. ; ) It's also a much older game -- this is the 95th Grey Cup -- and deeply rooted in Canadian sports tradition.
This year, it's being played in Toronto, the city where dh & I commute to work every day. Torontonians tend to be rather blase about the whole thing, but elsewhere in the country, & most definitely on the Prairies, where I grew up, it is a huge, huge deal. Grey Cup almost always gets the biggest ratings of the year of any event broadcast on Canadian TV (Super Bowl included). It is the one football game I will watch every year, and most especially this year, since the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be playing the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Having grown up in both Manitoba & Saskatchewan, it's a tough call, but since I was born in Manitoba & spent more time there overall (& my family still lives there) I will be cheering for the Bombers.
The Grey Cup is played between the champions of the east & west divisions -- the Bombers were always in the west and Manitoba is generally considered a western province, but as several CFL teams folded, they became part of the eastern division. East versus West is a classic Canadian rivalry in more things than football, which is part of the whole appeal of Grey Cup. That, and all the parties. ; ) It's been said that the Super Bowl is about corporations, but Grey Cup is about the fans, the people who actually buy the tickets (with their own money). It's gotten glitzier & more corporat-ized over the years, but it's still very much a grassroots kind of event.
I've never been to the Grey Cup, but I've been to a couple of victory parades when the Toronto Argonauts have won in recent years. My sister & her boyfriend came to Toronto in 1989, and witnessed what is considered the greatest Grey Cup game ever played (Saskatchewan over Hamilton, with a last-minute field goal). I went with them to the parade on the Saturday before the game & enjoyed myself hugely. My aunt came to Toronto in the mid-1960s for the Grey Cup when she was in her late teens or early 20s -- boarded the Grey Cup train in Winnipeg (already full of fans from points further west), rode for well over 24 hours (my mother comes by train occasionally and it takes her 30-35 hours), got off, went to the game, got back on the train, arrived back in Winnipeg & went to work again! I can dimly remember my father pointing at the TV screen & telling us to watch and see if we could see her. Several of my cousins have been to various Grey Cups over the years too.
I got offered VIP tickets to a Grey Cup party/concert tonight, featuring classic Canadian rock acts Loverboy, Trooper, April Wine & David Wilcox. Those names probably don't mean much to those of you south of the 49th, but they were huge when I was growing up. This is the sort of thing that makes me think, "I could do this while people with kids couldn't, or would at least have a harder time accepting -- no kids at daycare to pickup, no babysitters to arrange...."
Nevertheless, I turned down the offer. I had a lousy day at work, the weather is horrible (freezing rain & snow), I only had a few hours' notice, and I would still have to get up at 5 a.m. and go in to work in the morning. I knew dh would be even less enthusiastic. Besides which, I saw just about all those guys in their prime 25+ years ago. Am I getting old or what???