Flora: What are Nutcrackers made to look like, Mom?
Jane: Uh… Soldiers. Russian soldiers from the 19th century, I think.
Flora: Oh. Is that why they have that star on their hats?
Jane: They have a star on their hats?
Flora: Yeah. So, are Russians like the Nazis?
Jane: Only if you’re Polish.
Jane: No, no, they’re not. The Nazis were German Fascists, and the Russians are people who live in Russia.
Flora: But Polish people think they’re like Nazis?
Jane: You know what, forget I said that.
Jane: Because I don’t want to pass irrational ethnic hatred down another generation.
Flora: I don’t understand.
Jane: It’s okay. You’re Canadian. You’re not supposed to understand.
Another long pause.
Flora: Mom? Is everything in the world complicated?
Flora: Or do you just make everything complicated?
Happy Canada Day, everyone. And Happy Fourth of July in three days to my American friends and readers. Perfect we’re not, troubled we are—but we have so much less historical baggage to contend with. And that’s a good thing.
To my parents and Polish relatives: I get it. Really.
For a more serious take on this topic, here’s a column of mine inspired by our last visit to London: Oppressed by History (September 2009, Last Word, Thomson Reuters’ Lexpert)
N.B. This conversation brought to you by Barbie in the Nutcracker.