My three wishes for my sixtieth birthday (August 14) are to go for an ice skate close to that day, have a daycare water fight that afternoon with our Littles and any alumni who would like to join us, and have opportunity to personally share with all my friends why knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute most significant part of my whole sixty years and beyond.
Today I would like to share why ice skating is still an important part of my life.
The best seven years of my childhood were spent growing up in Sandspit on the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii). Due to the mild weather, I had never heard of anyone going ice skating in the winter. We only had one TV channel beamed over from Prince Rupert (CBC), so I do recall Hockey Night in Canada taking over Saturday evening programming but it didn’t seem very interesting at the time.
However, everything changed in Grade 8 when my family all got used ice skates and began the great adventure of learning to use those slippery varmints. As I recall, it was a rather bittersweet time as a very shy and insecure kid had to awkwardly maneuver around the arena boards without looking stupid.
Okay, so the looking stupid part may have been just my personal view of myself, but at that age, it was a very real difficulty for me. On one occasion there were three pretty high school age girls standing against the boards as I was trying to make my rounds. When I let go of the boards and tried to bravely skate past them without looking like a fool my feet slipped out from under me and I took them all down in one fell swoop, as they say. So much for not looking stupid!
It was not long before I was doing well enough with skating that I wanted to try playing hockey. I recall going to a hockey school that included Hale Lacoe who was coach of the Vancouver Canucks at the time, and one of the Vancouver players, Bob Dailey, who was in his rookie season (I think).
In no time, I was enthralled with minor hockey and fell in love with the fun and excitement of playing the game. Because I started so late (compared to most of the other guys), I had an enthusiasm for every game that many of the players had lost after years of league play. What I lacked in skill I often made up for with sheer determination.
As I look back on that time, I realize that I was driven by the satisfaction of discovering something that I did well. It was a new experience to be able to participate in an activity that did not seem to include the criticism and ridicule for never being good enough.
I did not know at the time that I was addicted to the dopamine-drive that was a counterfeit of what my heart really longed for. Even when I wanted to walk the ten miles to the arena in a snowstorm because my parents didn’t think it was safe to drive, I wasn’t aware of why it was so important. I just knew I desperately loved the game.
After a few years, something changed. First, it was the growing distaste for the ugly talk that took place in the dressing rooms. I had a love for God that was already maturing at that age, and to hear the vile ways fellow teens spoke about my heavenly Father, and about their love of indecent experiences, ruined things for me. Guys coming drunk to games didn’t help either. At the same time, I was also taking a beating to my sense of worth on other fronts. Together these two things shut down my desire to participate in the game.
During my Bible School years, I discovered that it was a different story playing with fellow students against one of the area church teams. The dressing room talk was clearly different, and I was with peers who expressed a lot of appreciation for me as a team player. While it lasted, it was just a heap load of fun in the midst of gruelling studies and the transitioning years into adulthood.
After that, I would sometimes be able to fit in some drop-in hockey and public skating, but as time passed, things to do with skating faded from my activities.
Then, eight years ago, a little girl who adopted Fern and me as grandparents (it was mutual), did her kindergarten year in our daycare. This meant getting creative with physical education. So, that year I began taking her to the Friday afternoon public skating and a new tradition was born. For the next eight years I continued taking her skating, soon joined by friends from her school (up to six kids one year), and adding her little sister sometime later.
Over these eight years of public skating, my age has crept up on me. I slowly noticed that I did not have the finesse of my younger years. Each season it seemed to take a bit longer to warm up the limbs and ligaments at each skating session. It also took more time to feel back in shape for the distinctive exercise skating provides.
On the other hand, the reason that going for a skate to celebrate my sixtieth birthday is so meaningful to me is that it allows me to do a fairly strenuous workout but without the jarring pressure of running. I have also enjoyed the social side of things as I have watched my granddaughters growing up, and have appreciated the other friendships we have shared.
So, it looks like my birthday skate will be on Monday evening, August 13th, from 6:00-7:30pm. If any friends or daycare alumni would like to share this start of the skating season, I would love the company. Otherwise, I just want to express my thankfulness to enjoy good health, and a growing desire to live every day to the glory and honour of Jesus Christ our Creator and Savior.
Yes, even with public skating!
© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ email@example.com