What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do during the holiday season, but haven’t done thus far?
Every year as winter approaches, I receive the Stars on Ice pre-sale email from Ticketmaster, and I am drawn back to my childhood.
I learned to skate on those double-bladed kids skates that Donny Osmond wore on the Donnie and Marie show, on a pond, in winter. Skating then meant layers of mittens and coats and socks inside too-large skates. I vaguely recall a pond under the Navesank Bridge, but that can’t be right, and is probably a mix of memories.
As I got a little older, and we lived in Georgetown, my skating venues expanded. There was the reservoir, where it was so cold the ripples would freeze into the ice, and, in February, when it had frozen a foot thick, there would be Porsche rallies, but there was also the baseball diamond. They would put a liner on it, and a foot-high fence, and make a skating rink, and we kids would walk there after school and skate til our fingers turned blue and our chins were numb, and the sky was beyond twilight and into full dark. We would sit under the streetlamp that shone on the bleachers and un-tie laces that were crusted with snow and ice, and then we would walk home to waiting mothers and steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Life was innocent in that time and place. We second graders could walk from the baseball diamond at the park, through town, to our homes, and never worry about being stolen or molested.
It wasn’t all great, of course, because most of us had to wear these scratchy silvery socks that were just itchier than anything had ever been or could ever be itchy. Imagine the itchy sort of wool woven with tinsel, and that’s what they felt like. Oh, sure, our feet were warm, but we scratched them raw when we got home.
Well, once we could feel our fingers.
I haven’t skated outdoors (the faux arena in downtown San Jose notwithstanding) since I was seven. By the time I was ten, we’d already moved to a real city, and while I still went ice skating with my friends after school, it was at the rink attached to the Y. Better ice, hot chocolate right there, but not as much fun at all. The magic was missing. I haven’t skated AT ALL since before I was married, when my mother and I took lessons in San Jose. It was fun, but again, inside. No magic.
(Somewhat ironically, I never went skating at all in South Dakota either, as it was usually TOO cold, and no one else knew how.)
The thing is, winter isn’t winter without ice skating. And as much as I hate the cold most of the time, there are moments when I want the scratchy silver thermal socks, when I crave the cold air freezing my nose as I race around the rink, when nothing could possibly be better than coming home to a warm fire and hot cocoa, after a day on the ice.