I meant to put together a list of hockey-related people, places and things for which I’m thankful when we were expressing our appreciation for such things here in the northern hockey homeland a little over a month ago, but never quite got around to it. So I’ll conveniently use the forthcoming US Thanksgiving Day holiday as the backdrop for my belated acknowledgments, when in fact I’m grateful for many of these things 24x7x365. In no particular order (though number one is admittedly placed there for a reason), I hereby submit that I must give thanks for:
- A Hockey Momma who not only puts up with, but supports and enjoys our sometimes crazy schedule, has developed an affection for standing behind the bench, considers wings and beer at a sports bar a night on the town and probably knows the rules of hockey better than most referees.
- Arenamaps.com and GPS systems. My thanks here are actually on behalf of my directionally challenged spouse. I’m still perplexed as to how you can drive to a location as a passenger more than once and not necessarily know how to get home from said location on your own should the need arise. Yup, I realize you gotta take the bad with the good.
- The fact that this is the first year the Boy has developed the physical capacity to break over-priced hockey sticks with a degree of regularity.
- The Devil, who despite being given opportunities to try dance, gymnastics, soccer and various other activities, just kept getting drawn back by the ice, the sticks and the pucks.
- Hockey equipment hand-me-downs from the Boy to the Devil.
- Employment and employers who’ve afforded me the ability to attend pretty much every significant hockey-related event that’s come up over the past 10+ years.
- The end of 6am practices (leftover thanks from about three years ago).
- The coaches, trainers, managers, referees, league officials and admin staff who have tirelessly volunteered their time in support of my kids and minor hockey in general.
- The opportunities I have had to be involved with both the Devil’s and the Boy’s teams in various capacities over the years. These experiences have generally benefited me at least as much as they have them.
- Having witnessed at least one short-handed goal in sudden-death overtime in one of my kid’s games that I can recall.
- Positive role models like Joe Sakic, Cassie Campbell, Sidney Crosby, Hayley Wickenheiser and Wayne Gretzky to name a few.
- A freshly cleaned sheet of ice before a practice or game. Better yet, a fresh, clear pond after the first spring thaw and freeze. Haven’t actually had a chance to appreciate the latter in a while, but I can remember skating on it like it was yesterday.
- Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and Wendy’s drive-thrus. Thankful for; though not particularly proud of and semi guilt-ridden about at times. You’re all welcome for the convenient links to store locators so you can join me in my guilt.
- The return of the Winnipeg Jets to their rightful place in the NHL. Not the first or likely the last time I’ll pledge my allegiance to the team I grew up with.
- The smell of hard work that is an open hockey bag or recently occupied dressing room. Yes, I realize I have few cohorts for this one and likely none who are female or more specifically mothers.
- The tradition of shaking hands and saying “Good game!” or “Good Luck!” after a hard-fought game or series.
- Grandparents, friends and neighbours who’ve showed up at games announced or otherwise to provide an extra bit of incentive for the kids to shine, who have always darted quick, but noticeable glances up into the stands.
- The literally thousands of smiles I’ve witnessed on hundreds of faces, in hundreds of games and practices over 12+ years because of goals scored, passes made, jokes told or simply experiences shared. Each one enough reason for gratitude on its own.
- A few lasting friendships Momma and I have made and kept through the game; which may not have happened otherwise.
- The multitude of memories this great game and my kids have given me; most of which I’ve tried to recall here over the past couple of years.
- Back to the Boy and the Devil who’ve both developed a respect for the game, their coaches and their teammates. I suppose Momma and I can take at least partial credit for this one.
This is far from a definitive list but I hear the orchestra reminding me my time is up and I think I see Kanye West running up the driveway, so I welcome anyone to chime in with their own thankful thoughts before or after you’re stuffed with stuffing. Who or what in this great game has provided a positive influence or exemplary experience for which you are sincerely grateful?
Hockey Turkey image courtesy of http://kuklaskorner.com/hockey/comments/happy_thanksgiving1