Collecting Hallmark Memories

It’s a good thing I’m into lists.

In between delivering four workshops at the Parks and Recreation Ontario provincial conference in Niagara Falls last week, I tried to deal with the challenge of keeping up with my job from a distance while fitting in family visits and a lot of errands. While I ultimately managed to get everything done, the very best of the visit were two items not found on any of my to-do lists.

Somewhat spontaneously my mother, son, and I decided to go to Toronto to see the Sound of Music. Although I am the kind of person who rarely, if ever, watches the same movie or reads the same book more than once, I could and have, watched the Sound of Music over and over again. The Mirvish show is a wonderful production reflecting extraordinary music, a beautiful story, and spectacular scenery.

During the show I laughed, I cried, and stayed totally in the moment feeling every iota of tension leave my body. As the show wrapped up, the busloads of school kids who filled the top two balconies must have felt the same regret I did in not wanting the magic to end. Their joy and appreciation spilled into hoots and hollers and hundreds of them jumped to their feet triggering an early, and judging by the cast’s reaction, surprising standing ovation. It still makes me smile to think about it.

The second item not on the list was the championship hockey game of my 8 and 11 year old nephews in Mississauga. 

Delightful, busy and active boys, they play baseball, piano, take swim lessons and participate as Cubs. However this year, fueled by their discovery of road hockey and their parent’s somewhat questionable loyalty to the Leafs, they decided they wanted to play hockey.

Seems like a good idea but within the traditional structure of hockey it simply isn’t practical for kids like my nephews, who have spent very little time on skates, to be integrated with others their age who are so much more skilled because they’ve been playing for years. 

Determined to overcome the barriers, my sister ultimately found the solution in a brilliant league designed specifically to introduce newcomers of all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds to the joy of hockey.

To ensure on even match, each line from each team is composed of kids with similar skill levels. Additionally, because each line represents differing levels of skills, kids can be moved up as they improve. It is especially interesting for spectators because while each line plays the same amount of time, there is a definite pick up in speed and finesse as the lines change. Even more interesting is seeing the mix on the ice. Because of the emphasis on skill levels, each line represents different shapes and sizes of players as well as a gender mix.

Anyway, they did such a good job of matching the skill levels that the championship game was tied at the end of regulation play. My nephews’ team won in the final nail-biting shootout. While I’d hate to have been on the losing team, it was a great one to win. The joy on the ice was palpable and I’ll always hold dear the memory of my nephews skating with their team around the perimeter of the ice, arms a-pumping, holding a huge trophy aloft as “We are the Champions” blared through the loudspeakers.

It was indeed a Hallmark memory.

When each of us revisits our own Hallmark memories and the accompanying joy that enriches our lives, there’s a good chance they will have taken place in a recreation or cultural setting. It is a reminder that in these tough times it is more important than ever we recognize the need and importance of our leisure activities.


Posted on 04-05-09

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