Happy Birthday, Canada!

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As Canada celebrates it’s 150th birthday today, I can’t help but reflect how blessed I am to have been born in such a country.

Canada is a country of amazing diversity. We have oceans (3 of them!), mountains, forests, and wide open prairies. We have an abundance of natural resources and unlike much of the world, we have pure, clean drinking water.

With the exception of our First Nations and Inuit people, we are all descendants of newcomers to this land; people who came dreaming of a better life and who were willing to work hard to achieve it. We still see that in our recent waves of immigrants and refugees. We are truly an international country. In fact, one in five Canadians is foreign born! Learning to live together in spite of our differences isn’t always easy and many people have mixed feelings about topics like immigration and integration, but we pull together when times are tough, we help one another, and we do it with pride because that’s what being Canadian is all about. We are known for our kindness and generosity, our open mindedness, and our optimism.

According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, Canada ranks among the ten safest countries in the world. Though I don’t think too highly of the man-child that we elected as our present Prime Minister or the policies put forth by his government, I don’t have to look very far beyond our borders to see so much worse.

For me, especially in recent years, one of the greatest benefits of being Canadian is our publicly funded health care. I have absolutely no idea how much my care has cost since I was diagnosed with first one cancer and then another, but I have no doubt that by now I’m a million dollar girl! Amazingly, it hasn’t cost me a cent! Even the money we spend on gas, meals and parking for our many trips to the city for tests, appointments and treatments is tax deductible.

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Our taxes are high. In fact, most Canadians pay close to 50% of their incomes in taxes of one kind or another, but in addition to world class health care, we get a lot for our tax dollars. We tend to take the twelve years of free public education available to every Canadian for granted, not to mention other social programs such as unemployment insurance and old age pensions.

Sure, we do have long, cold winters, but I try not to think about that at this time of year!

Happy Birthday, Canada!

 

In everything give thanks

I almost hesitate to post anything today because I’m feeling rather cranky! My surgery went well last Wednesday so what do I have to complain about? Just the fact that my head feels like it’s been used as a soccer ball and a sore throat/earache kept me awake most of the night.

Feeling the way I do this morning, it would be easy to give in to whining and feeling sorry for myself but this is one of those days when I need to remind myself that scripture says

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The little word in  at the beginning of that verse is the reason that I can give thanks today. If it asked me to give thanks for everything, I’m quite certain I couldn’t do it. I certainly couldn’t give thanks for cancer and though I recognize how fortunate I am to live where universal and excellent health care is available, I’m not thankful that I had to have surgery at all, but even in  these circumstances, there is much to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my hubby who patiently puts up with my restlessness at night and crankiness by day! In some ways, the surgery was harder on him than it was on me. I was out cold, totally unaware of what was going on, but as the hours ticked by, he was the one who was waiting for the surgeon’s call to tell him that things had gone well. I’m thankful for a surgeon who worked patiently and carefully for seven hours straight to remove all the cancer yet leave my facial nerves intact. Thanks to his meticulous effort, my left eye is fully functional and I’m left with nothing more than a crooked smile which will likely improve significantly once the massive swelling subsides and healing takes place. I’m also thankful for the wonderful friends and neighbours who have been showering us with meals; pots of homemade soup, fresh buns and other soft foods that I can handle. We are so blessed!

But do you know what else I’m thankful for today? I’m thankful for the guys who invented the drinking straw!  After seven hours with a breathing tube down my throat, it is SORE and it seems to be taking a long time to heal! Drinking lots of fluids helps but that’s hard to do when your bottom lip doesn’t work right!

Apparently, the first drinking straws were used more than 5000 years ago! The oldest one in existence, a gold tube inlaid with precious blue lapis lazuli, was found by archeologists exploring an ancient Sumerian tomb that was dated 3,000 B.C. On the other side of the globe, Argentinian natives long used similar wooden or metal devices, known as bombillas, to strain and drink their tea. Our humble paper and plastic straws had their beginnings in the U.S. In the 1880s, using rye grass as straws had become popular but their tendency to become mushy when wet and the grassy flavour that they added to beverages, made them somewhat unsatisfactory. It was Marvin C. Stone who came up with the idea of making one from paper. He started by winding paper around a pencil to make a thin tube, then slid the pencil out and applied glue to hold it together. He later built a machine that would coat the outside of the paper with wax. He patented his invention on January 3rd, 1888. In 1937, Joseph Friedman, created the first bendable straw, the type I’m using today.

Come to think of it, I’m even thankful for silly history lessons like this one that provide distraction from my present discomfort and crankiness!

What are you thankful for today?

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