As I sat on my couch last night, watching hockey with the room lit only by the glare from the TV and the lights from the Christmas tree, I realised something. I have been extremely fortunate. I have grown up during a time when winters were still winters and we had white Christmases. OK, in my older age, I might complain about the cold and how it gets to all my operated joints, but as a kid, there was nothing better than winter and the anticipation when the school’s tennis courts, football pitches would don rinks and ice.
Usually, we got to get our first outdoor skating sessions in November. There is some hockey romanticism in that, but what I find sad is that many kids don’t get to experience that now-a-days. OK I live abroad from my native and here a white Christmas would cause more chaos than something that would be revered. But my son might never get to experience what I grew up with and that is quite sad.
To me, when I played hockey outdoors on those school rinks, it was hockey at its purest. There was no competition, no outward pressures, there were no hard feelings after a loss. It was a way that kids came together. Guys from high-school would play with kids from middle school and anyone who was at the rink with a pair of skates and a stick and wanted to play. There was no them and us. It was just pure.
Even though today, if I went back, then wind chill would probably be blistering on my face, but then again, most Christmases that I have spent at home, they have been what they are here. In almost seventeen years abroad, I have had two white Christmases in Finland, and during one of those I had the opportunity to play outdoors. Last Christmas was a white one, but it only started to snow day before Christmas eve, with no chance to get a rink going.
Thanks to global warming, winters now come much later as well as summers. What I knew as winter would start at the end of October and would extend all the way to March, while summer was definitely in by June. Now you’re lucky if your summer vacation will see any sun as the summer doesn’t tend to arrive until much later.
Hopefully, one day, I can take my kids back and play with them outdoors under the starlit skies, without a care in the world and that the only thing that matters is the puck and skating.
I love playing proper league hockey, but I miss those days from my youth when there was nothing better than to grab your skates, stick and pucks and cycle to the rink and spend the best part of your evening playing hockey.