When I reflect back on Christmas time when I was a boy growing up in Edmonton, the memories of skating and playing hockey are most vivid. Like all kids, we couldn’t wait for school to end and the holidays to start.
There was a local community outdoor rink about four blocks from where I lived. My friends and I would meet there sometimes as early as 7am, so that we could jump over the boards and play pickup hockey for an hour or two until the rink attendant showed up to officially open the facility, start charging a dollar or two for public skating and kick us freeloaders off!
We’d have to bring a shovel along so that we could clear off the previous night’s dump of snow before we strapped on the blades and dropped the puck. Once we got kicked off we’d head inside the “snack shack” for some hot chocolate and then spend the rest of the day sledding or tobogganing.
There was also family ice time when I was a boy. My mother would take my sister and me to Edmonton’s famous Hawrelak Park. In the summertime it was a place to go for a picnic. But in the winter you went there to skate.
The frozen lake provided a wonderful open air skating experience. Hockey sticks and pucks weren’t allowed but it didn’t matter. Just getting out into the cold fresh air and feeling the sharp blades cut into the snowy ice beneath your feet was good enough.
Unless you’re in the Sierra, it’s difficult to get the outdoor skating/hockey experience in California. But you can get there vicariously thanks to the internet. Put on your virtual skates and grab your vitual stick and enjoy the pristine ice of Windy Arm in Canada’s Yukon!
And have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!