12.27.2005

anniversary

The extensive coverage of yesterday's anniversary of the Asian tsunami was extraordinary. We watched an amazing CBC Fifth Estate that had moment-by-moment interviews with several survivors. Their stories were harrowing and surreal, beyond imagination.

From my own experience, and from interviewing people who've survived many kinds of trauma, I know that anniversaries can be very meaningful, and very difficult. The first one - the first few - can be especially painful, but also especially significant. My heart really went out to the people gathered on the beaches of Thailand and Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and all the people struggling privately with their memories.

The tsunami anniversary was an odd juxtaposition with the endless ads for Boxing Day sales, and the glimpse of Boxing Day Sale Mania on the news. I notice many stores have invented something called Boxing Week as a way to extend the buying frenzy. In February in the US, not only have two Presidents' birthdays been moved to accommodate a three- or four-day weekend, many stores run "Presidents' Week" sales. (Although I'm sure they don't use the apostrophe, or else use it incorrectly.) (You didn't know I was a grammar nut, did you?)

Anyway, in this respect Canada is just like the US.

Meanwhile, as many as 80% of the people left homeless by last year's tsunami are still living in tents or other temporary housing. The rebuilding has been left almost completely to private aid organizations. The governments don't give a shit. Sri Lanka, Louisiana - it is ever thus.

10 comments:

James said...

If I remember rightly, "Boxing Week" came about when laws required shops to be closed on Boxing Day itself. Those were changed a while back.

Wrye said...

Not all countries have boxing day/St. Stephen's day as a statutory holiday--Is it a stat in the US? I can't recall. (napping off the eggnog, thank you)

I always had the impression that (if anything) boxing day sales (on the 27th when necessary) were a bigger deal up here than south of the 49th. Mercifully, there's no Canadian equivalent of that post-thanksgiving Black Friday stuff. Just when did that acquire a name, anyway?

James said...

So far as I know, most of the US is unaware of "Boxing Day". Certainly, most of my US friends have had to have it explained to them.

L-girl said...

There's no Boxing Day in the US. Americans who know Brits or British customs know about it, but that's about it. I didn't even realize it was a holiday in Canada until a wmtc reader told me last year.

The only place I've heard it called St. Stephens Day is Ireland. That may be partly to be non-British.

James said...

The only place I've heard it called St. Stephens Day is Ireland. That may be partly to be non-British.

More likely, it's to be non-Protestant. Catholics are very serious about their saint's days.

L-girl said...

Mm, and Irish people are very sensitive about their non-British-ness, too.

Lone Primate said...

I don't know if it was the same show or not, but on Boxing Day, CBC Newsworld ran an anniversary special that showed a haunting image. Someone, presumably high above the beach in a hotel room, had trained a video camera on the water, unknowing and unsuspecting. There was a tiny dot in the middle of it all. When it was zoomed, a pixelated image showed a young child in a bathing suit just wandering in the surf. In slow motion, the sea simply rose and engulfed him, without a trace. It was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen, taking me back to the glimpses of people leaping from the flames of the WTC. Here and gone. It makes you wonder where God could possibly have been.

Lone Primate said...

Mm, and Irish people are very sensitive about their non-British-ness, too.

Unbelievably so. It amazes me. It's like one of those wounds that has healed over almost without a scar, but is ragged, infected, and bleeding within still. The paradoxes are jaw-dropping. Irish citizens and British citizens have complete rights to move back and forth between the countries, live and work in each other's countries, even vote in each other's elections. They're like a single country with two governments. And yet, there's such emnity still; people who don't want Queen Elizabeth to visit Dublin this year, people who want the British to continue to occupy the North with troops as though a war would break out -- guarding a border that doesn't even have check points anymore. To Canadians and Americans who have been at peace for centuries but have nothing like these reciprocal rights and still line up with passports and birth certificates, it's a head-spinning set of illogical contradictions.

L-girl said...

To Canadians and Americans who have been at peace for centuries but have nothing like these reciprocal rights and still line up with passports and birth certificates, it's a head-spinning set of illogical contradictions.

I used to read a lot of Irish history. Given what I learned, the enmity makes complete sense - on a non-rational, emotional, psychic level.

Americans of Irish descent, generations later, carry it with them, too.

(That does not include me, btw - I'm not Irish. My Irish-history obsession had nothing to do with personal ancestry.)

L-girl said...

When it was zoomed, a pixelated image showed a young child in a bathing suit just wandering in the surf. In slow motion, the sea simply rose and engulfed him, without a trace. It was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen, taking me back to the glimpses of people leaping from the flames of the WTC.

Oh geez, I saw that too. I did that mental quickly-look-away thing, and it barely registered - until much later.

If you can catch that Fifth Estate show, I recommend it, if you like that kind of thing. I find those survivor stories riveting. The random chance of it all.