Back in the early 60’s, my cousin met an American soldier who was stationed at the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base here in Stephenville, Newfoundland. The two of them married, and she moved to North Carolina with him to start a family. From time to time, my cousin and her family visited the tiny community where I grew up. I remember having a difficulty understanding their strong accents, and I imagine that they had an equally rough time understanding ours.
I never really spent much time with my American cousins, either due to the fact that we did a lot of camping back then, or simply because they only visited every few years or so.
A few years back, when I first got into using Facebook to find family members, I got re-acquainted with my relatives. In fact, I actually set up two Facebook groups, one in honor of my great grandparents on my father’s side, and one of my grandparents on my mother’s side. On the pages, I included old photos I had gathered from family members’ albums. I scanned them off and placed them in the Facebook groups. From there, I allowed people to join the groups, and in no time at all, each of the groups had over two hundred members. I have a rather large family.
One of the people who signed on to my great grandfather’s page was my cousin RL. Through facebook, we chatted about the differences in our lives and about our parents. RL’s mom and my dad grew up very close, actually living a hop, skip and jump from each other. We found ourselves commenting on hockey pictures, (he is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and I am a die hard Habs fan) so we ended up poking fun at each other every time one team bet the other. When I posted pictures of my family during Christmas or at birthdays or anniversaries, RL always commented on the pics, and made sure that he showed his mom the pics as well. His mother made me promise that I never discontinue my Facebook, as it provides her a link to her past and to her family living over here on the Rock.
Last evening RL and his wife dropped by for a visit. They were over here as part of a family reunion for his mother’s family. We had a great chat, some laughs, and a generally great time. As we spoke, it was easy to see how different our lives progressed, mostly due the fact that although the same age, growing up in different countries tends to make a big difference.
The first thing we noticed was that when RL and his wife came into our home, they did not remove their shoes. Both me and my lady looked at each other with a confused look. This was especially due to the fact that I had just spent most of the afternoon cleaning the house, and making sure that the floors were spic and span. They just strolled to our living room, shoes on their feet, like it was completely normal. Here in Canada, it is considered rude to leave your shoes on inside.
I took a quick trip to the bedroom and googled American traditions vs Canadian Traditions, and I was surprised to find that it is customary for Americans to leave their shoes on their feet when they enter their friends homes. The article went on to explain that Canadians are among the most mannerly and respecting people in the world. I never realized this. With this new information, myself and my missus were able to enjoy our American cousins company for the rest of the evening.
It is funny how little things are overlooked sometimes. Maybe the next time we get out of country visitors, we should do some information gathering first. It was nice to have them over, and they plan to revisit us before they leave next week.