Monday, March 1, 2010
I'm not a fan of hockey. Most sports (with the exception of professional wrestling or boxing) I can bear to watch if I'm in the actual stadium, seeing it live. But NFL football is about the only sport I enjoy watching on TV.
So when hubby breezed into the office yesterday and asked if I was planning to join him and the boys as they tuned into the Olympic Hockey game between the U.S. and Canada, I politely declined.
"Maybe I'll come join you guys in the third period..." I offered.
"Could be over by then," he said. "You really have to watch a game unfold."
I gave him a weak 'maybe' and went back to my writing.
Then, as I tried to ignore them, I couldn't help but hear my gang settling in. Everyone staked their claim on the seating options. There was a discussion about popcorn being made. Jeff tuned in the TV, which had preliminary reporting that radiated excitement.
"Oh, O-KAY!" I said, "I'm in!"
After all, who makes popcorn from scratch better than mom and who would Sam snuggle up against once he got sleepy?
And of course it ended up being one of the best hockey games ever played. (or so I'm told, I have no personal experience to compare it to) We watched every slap of the stick and laughed about announcer terminology that is pretty unfamiliar to this hockey-free house. (active sticks?) It turned out to be kind of fun, being a part of an event that was seen around the world by as many people as the Super Bowl I cared so much about.
Lots of laughs with my boys, even the one who has adopted a case of moodiness in recent days. The animals gathered around us, somehow sensing something special was happening, and when that puck flew into the net with only 24.4 seconds to go, tying us with Canada, I thought we would all have immediate heart attacks.
It turned out to be the perfect way for the Olympics to leave our house. It's been a pretty great two weeks, watching so many interesting sporting events unfold. We've tuned in every night, watching many events live and taping others to watch later. From the parade of athletes at opening ceremonies to the last song of closing ceremonies we have been engaged.
We love just about every winter sport and seeing so many high caliber athletes perform demonstrations of how they are done perfectly, was inspirational and incredibly entertaining. There were moments when I was almost sure I could do some of those moves, until I was forced back to the reality that I'm pretty much a bunny hill person and a bit past Olympic athlete age. I'm more like the moms in the stands, giving hugs and handing out posters.
But it was fun to have something built into every evening that all of my kids enjoyed. Whether we analyzed the jumps in snowboard competitions or watched in awe as expert skiers did flips off the fifty foot launch pad, we had common ground for fourteen straight days. We laughed as we tried to understand the purpose of curling and we (I) cried as we watched a beautiful skater make her suddenly absent mama very proud. We pretended we were experts, parroting back event rules and scoring systems we'd just heard for the first time ourselves. We fell in love with all the new 'cross' events, from snowboard cross to ski cross and were fascinated by how sudden blowing snow could so quickly change a race and course conditions. We practically felt like we were there.
I will miss these Olympic games. I've never felt so connected to them. We've watched in the past. We moved to Salt Lake City just a year after the Games left and got to enjoy the amazing Olympic Training Park that was left behind. We got to try many winter sports during our three year residency in Utah, including the luge and bobsled. The kids all learned to ski on Utah's perfect snow, even Sam, who had just turned four. Then we moved to this place, that is just a short drive away from another Olympic Training ground, in Lake Placid. So we seem to be surrounded by the Olympic spirit.
Maybe its because I feel a kinship with the moms I see in the stands, cheering on their inspiring children. Maybe its the 'thanks mom' commercials that ran non stop and made me cry every time. Maybe its the fact I spent more time snuggling with my usually off on their own adventures children than I have in months. But I felt really connected to these games. I'm truly sad to see them go.
Four years is a long time. The next time we get to enjoy a winter Olympics I will have a seventh grader, a senior, and two kids about to finish college (we hope). It seems like a lifetime away but I know from experience it will be here in a flash.
In the meantime I have a new respect for the country that lies just north of our own. I never realized just how beautiful it was. They put on a pretty spectacular party. So it just seemed right that after our big hockey come back at the last minute, the true gold went to the men in red and white. Silver ain't so bad, boys. It was fun to see the city that embraced us all get a chance to rejoice, peacefully, in the streets.
Thanks for the fun, Canada. It's been great. Gold medal job, all the way.