In Mormon-dom, CTR usually means Choose The Right. But not if you live in Raymond, Alberta Canada. Here, it means Come To Raymond. It is the first of July- Canada Day- and I am up at 5 am- what is with that?? I now live in Canada where it gets light in the summer at 3:45 AM!!Being an American, the first of July shouldn't be that big of a deal. But having lived in Canada for 21 years now, the first of July is kind of a big little deal. If you have never experienced a first of July in Raymond, Alberta- you haven't lived. For a small town of about 4500, they do it up BIG...HUGE! It is THEEEE place to BEEE! There is a family softball tournament- These games are taken quite seriously-family honor and all. I usually listen to more than watch because the mossies will eat you alive. But it's almost in my backyard, so I can hear when someone makes a good play. There is a 5 or 10 K run, a pancake breakfast, basketball tournaments, the hokiest parade you've ever seen but anyone can enter and it's a hoot. Each kid comes away with no less than one pound of candy. It amazes me how all of southern Alberta shows up for this event. The town quadruples in size. Sometimes there are car shows, a fair in downtown Raymond(which consists of one block of stores and businesses) but it's so small town it's a must do with the grand kids. There is a program and dance-which I avoid like the plague. Oh wait -I did go once when Stewart's Dad was the honorary cowboy. There is a huge rodeo- The Raymond Stampeed- first rodeo in Canada...Not sure if that's true but it's also gigantic - 2 days of it, literally in my back yard as we live on the street that buts up to the fairgrounds. I love to watch all the horses. One year there was a fancy schmancy horse group from the states with about 20 totally matched horses with checkerboards cut into the hair on their rumps- sounds very weird but they were beautiful horses- all precision riders and such. Fancy until they got out of the fairgrounds somehow and Stewart and I had to try to heard them all back in the gates. Fun times! Also in my backyard are the fireworks... at 11pm because dang it takes forever to get dark this far north! I love that you can walk or drive around town and there are gigantic family picnics in every yard. You can stop in at any one of them and eat yourself silly, because you know almost everyone. Family comes from all over the globe to be in Raymond for the 1st. It's a very big deal and you don't miss it if you can help it. One year Kurt got a hankeren to play his pipes in the parade. So he and his teacher and another student put on the kilt and marched and played the pipes- It was very cool! It about killed Kurt's teacher- it's not a short parade route! And blowing on those things for that long is quite a feat! Very few people even recognized Kurt. Could be because he had on sunglasses, but might also be the kilt and such.
Like most things in Canada, I have learned to love it. We sing all 5 verses of Oh Canada in church and it chokes me up every time. Do I feel disloyal to the United States? Honestly I do a little. The 4th of July used to be my favorite holiday. When we lived in Denver we used to CTR and then rush back for the 4th, so we got both holidays in! And for a while we skipped out on the 1st and went to the lake for the 4th- but our dogs were terrified of the fireworks that went on for an entire week at the lake so we stay home now. HOME. Canada is my home, maybe not my "Native Land", but I have grown very fond of the true north, strong and free. I really mean it when I sing God keep our land glorious and free. In this world, that is a blessing not be be taken lightly. Freedom to live your life the way you want to. Freedom to worship the God of your choice. Speaking of worship, this year we had a special bonus. Our son in law, Eric, was baptised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a few days ago. I was so excited I couldn't see straight! He is a special young man. I have been blessed with two wonderful son in laws- I think of them as a BONUS! Instant sons with no puking pregnancy! Huzzah!
So I best go make my salad for the family do. Did I mention that I have my entire family here today! Wouldn't miss this day for anything. HAPPY CANADA DAY!