As we approach the holidays, we are reminded that Christmas is a time of family and friends, of wide-eyed youthful wonder and the embracing of tradition. Take a deep breath, and remember the magic this season can bring.
For many of us the hockey rink is one of those traditions. We are reminded that even if conditions aren’t exactly perfect, even if the ice is bumpy or there’s no ice at all, that a rink is so much more than a collection of its wooden and poly parts. It’s a place where dreams can come to life, where the rigors of our daily existence go away even for just a few minutes, and where magic can truly happen.
‘Twas The Skate Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the yard;
Not a creature was skating, the ice wasn’t hard.
A warm front had come shortly after dad filled;
And temps north of freezing left the water unchilled.
Our skates they sat dormant, our sticks in a pile;
Our jerseys on hangers, unused for a while.
So we shuffled to bed, quite excited for Christmas;
But a bit disappointed rink season had missed us.
As I lay in my bed, I turned and I tossed;
Our rink was a puddle, the winter was lost.
I’d pleaded with them, the rink gods hadn’t listened;
I drifted to sleep as the rink water glistened.
Then sometime that night I awoke to a SOUND;
I shot up in bed, rubbed my eyes, looked around.
It sounded like skate strides, one after another;
I turned to the window and threw off the covers.
My breath fogged the glass and I struggled to see;
Was there ice in our backyard? Could it really be?
I saw skate marks and pucks and the net had been moved;
There WAS ice out there, it looked perfectly smooth.
I tiptoed to the hall and woke sister and brother;
We crept down the stairs not to wake dad and mother.
Slung our skates over sticks so that we’d be prepared;
We opened the back door, we stopped, and we stared.
There was a lone figure on our backyard ice;
His stickhandling was perfect, his wrist shots precise.
On his head was a white ball, atop a red hat;
A white beard draped over a red coat so fat.
He was flanked ’round the rink, by a small crowd of nine;
With four on each side, and one behind the twine.
He saw us and motioned for us to come play;
We ran through the backyard, with zero delay.
We laced up our skates, just as fast as we could;
Grabbing gloves and our sticks, the three of us stood.
He motioned for us to put sticks in a pile;
As my sister chose teams, the man turned with a smile.
“I’ve read all your wish lists, I’ve looked at them twice;
You’re the first child to ever ask Santa for ice.
But I know how important this rink is to you;
And your father, he asked me for cold weather too.”
So we picked up our sticks, me and Claus on a team;
The rink lights stayed off, the ice shone in moonbeam.
And we skated and passed and we laughed and we scored;
Rudolph’s nose glowed bright red, another goal on the board.
For what seemed like hours, we played on our rink;
Though we weren’t cold or tired, our cheeks rosy pink.
We played shinny with Santa, you wouldn’t believe;
What had transpired that unseasonably warm Christmas Eve.
After dozens of goals had been scored in the net;
And the ice was chewed up and our shirts soaking wet.
We glided to the boards, sat in piles of snow;
And Santa said “Children, it’s time I must go.”
So we took off our skates and replaced them with boots;
The big man stood up, wiping snow off his suit.
We said our goodbyes, waving to the reindeer;
And Santa said, “Hey kids – same time next year?”
Back up to our bedrooms, the three of us shuffled;
Tiptoed up the stairs, our laughter we muffled.
We went to the window, but Santa was gone;
And all that was left was an unfrozen pond.
From all of us to all of you we wish you a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season!
~ GMHA Executive 2022-2023