A True Canadian Celebration
This past Saturday night we threw a big party here at our place to celebrate my 41st birthday and man was it ever a blast! I mean, if you can have a big bash for your 40th, why not for your 41st, right? At least that's the way I see it. Luckily, it was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, and starting from 5 PM our backyard slowly filled up with about 90 guests, the last of whom didn't leave until after 2 AM. A bit earlier than the 5 AM finish we had announced beforehand, but a damn good 9 hours nonetheless. This was a party that had just about everything. Well, almost... if only Johnny hadn't let me down so badly.
Out in the backyard the kids were running wild while the adults were drinking copious amounts of beer and wine... and everyone was downing platefuls of incredibly delicious food. All to the soundtrack of my two latest party mixes: Todd Snider, Kathleen Edwards, Joan Armatrading, Al Green, Ken Whiteley, Warren Zevon, REM, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Otis Redding, Outkast, Corinne Bailey Rae, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and lots more.
As always at our place, it was a potluck party and the food, like the crowd itself, was quite international. We had butter chicken curry and other Indian delights made by some friends who are originally from Bombay/Mumbai. There were all sorts of fantastic Japanese dishes made by the large Japanese contingent... and not to forget the frozen pizza lovingly prepared by one of our English friends, a Man U fanatic named Dave, who strangely forgot to bring along the mushy peas. Then there were the 8 liters of ice cream brought by some Dutch dude who claimed that ice cream was a Dutch dish.
There were also friends originally from Uganda, Australia, Argentina, Ireland, America, and, yes, even Germany (but, don't worry, in perfect Cleese-ian fashion, no one mentioned the war). Just like Canada as a whole, what we had was a mix of people from all over the world.
As for the native, and Native, Canadians in attendance we had people as diverse as a Metis from Manitoba, a Quebecois from Montreal, and even a somewhat crazy guy from Poco (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) and another from New Westminster (that'd be my dad).
The Sunshine Coast may be relatively white and WASPish, especially compared to Vancouver, but our parties certainly aren't. And our friends from Brunei, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka and Korea didn't even show up this time.
Meanwhile, inside the house, there was a rather large crowd huddled around the TV watching game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Detroit Red Wings and Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins... all the while drinking copious amounts of beer and wine of course. By the way, that's ice hockey for all you cricket and baseball fans out there. Detroit ended up winning 2-1 and so, just before 8:00, a bunch of distraught Penguins fans, and 2 very-out-of-place Red Wings fans, all filed back out onto the lawn.
The party remained outside until it started to get dark at around 9:30 to 10:00, when we all moved indoors to drink lots more beer and wine, while the kids watched "Happy Feet" and then "Charlotte's Web" on DVD in the TV room and a few of us started up a poker game that went on till 2:00.
It was quite the night: Great music, delicious food, wonderful people, beautiful weather, hockey on TV, a huge birthday cake and, not to forget, copious amounts of beer and wine. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, and I won at poker too!
And then there was the neighbor who fell from the top of our 8-foot fence while drunkenly trying to return home at 1 AM who didn't even hurt herself at all. And there were the phone calls from friends in Japan and India. And not to forget the great t-shirt my dad gave me that says "I FOUND JESUS (he was behind the sofa the whole time)".
The only two disappointing things about this whole event both had to do with a friend named Johnny Rogers, who not only left his guitar in his car the whole time, after having promised to play all three songs in his repertoire, but also failed to streak through the party completely nude as everyone had so anxiously been anticipating, a la the famous/infamous East Hastings Incident. Aside from the hurt caused by Johnny, however, it was a perfect celebration.
But it wasn't over yet.
After a day - Sunday - largely spent cleaning up the house and yard, it was once again time to celebrate. My actual birthday this time. On Monday. And what a celebration it was. Thanks to my wife and son, a couple of friends and a few penguins.
I woke up to my son Kaishan's singing and a big bag full of presents as well as a large stack of pancakes with a candle on top. A few hours later we were out eating Chinese for lunch, followed by a walk by the ocean. Just Kaishan, myself and my wife, Sonoko.
However, the real excitement started at 5 PM. That's when my lifelong friend Peter Corbett came over with his son, Mike, to watch game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. And, as if an NHL present just for me, it turned out to be one of the greatest hockey games I've ever seen. With just thirty seconds left in the game and their season, if they were to lose, the Penguins tied it up 3-3 to send the game into overtime and me into an ecstatic celebration. Then halfway through the third overtime period, and four and a half hours after the game had begun, the Penguins scored to finally end it and force a game six in the best-of-seven series. This was a game so good, so exciting, so intense, so riveting, that I'm thinking that even a cricket fan could have enjoyed it. What a game!!
And we washed it all down with the Great Canadian Meal: Pizza and beer.
Finally, I finished it all off - the day and the whole birthday celebration - by starting a new book I had just received from Sonoko as a birthday gift: A novel by Christopher Moore called "Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal". A great read so far.
Anyhow, people, the one thing that's clear from all this is that birthdays are meant to be celebrated and celebrating them is what I like to do.
Oh, and, obviously, 41 is clearly the new 40.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
For more stories about fun in Canada click here: Life In Canada
Or check out this one: The Tale of Dale and Paul The Not So Small
Or perhaps you've yet to see this: Comedian Steve Patterson On Soccer: Finally, The Game Fully Explained