Please… Have a Very, Very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays – From… The Rest of Us.

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Today…  My heart feels a little heavier, my stomach feels a little more knotted, and today I’ll battle and push just a little harder. 

Today, used to be the day I waited 364 other days for, I’d lose sleep week’s in advance anxiously awaiting today.  I’d stay up late and shake the presents trying to guess what I got for Christmas; I’d stay up late just to try and hang with the adults, trying to be cool, as if they were the barometer of “cool” Today, I’d try do all I could to exhaust myself so tomorrow would come faster. Part of it, I am sure, and I hope is simply growing up, and the fact that I am not 11, or 12 anymore.  But, the other part of it…  Well, life has his own rhyme and reason, I just haven’t quite figure out what it is, just yet.

Today is Wednesday, December 25, 2013.  That is all.  I no longer anxiously await waking up today, I no longer rip down the stairs, I no longer subtly make as much noise as I can so my mom, and Jen get their asses out of bed so we can all be together, and open gifts.  NoToday, I woke up at 8:23 am, rolled over, threw on jeans, a hoody and took out the dogs, then I made a coffee, heavily laced with Baileys as if it were going to knock me back out.  It didn’t, so I proceeded to watch TSN.  No need to subtly make as much noise as I can to wake the household anymore.  It didn’t matter.  Today, I woke up and it was Wednesday, December 25, 2013.  That was all.  I did nothing different than I did on Wednesday December 18th, or 11th, and I certainly won’t do much different on Tuesday, December 31stToday, is just Wednesday.

Still, Today, fortunately I was able to spend all of today with the one’s I love, the one’s I go to sleep with at night, and the one’s I am lucky to wake up beside every morning.  Amanda, Kona and our seasonal dog; Krimson. I wake up next to this trio every day, and I consider being one of the luckiest, today was no different just because of what today is supposed to be.    I was still fortunate enough to have so many great friends and family who sent their best to me today, and wished me a Merry Christmas, knowingly, or unknowingly of today’s difficulty, the salutations were much appreciated.  I was still fortunate enough to partake in the tradition of Christmas Day gifts, as Amanda and I exchanged gifts, hugs, and kisses, and it was special.

But today, our family remains split, and divided, we continue running, and hurting.  In Edmonton, In Calgary, In Victoria, In Vegreville, In Mayerthorpe you will find us.  We try our absolute damnedest to avoid today, to get around it, to ignore that today is Christmas Day.  We try so hard to run from it, we convince ourselves it’s just Wednesday, December 25, 2013, or at the very least we do a damn good job of pretending.  You eventually become so numb to it all, that faking it is no longer really faking it.  It becomes real.  We try so hard to run from it, that we separate ourselves, and we draw further from each other, further from each other, and further from ourselves.

There was no real effort on anyone’s behalf to get everyone together, and celebrate in a unified place today.  I tried to justify 300 KMs as an excuse to why I couldn’t be with everyone. Before we moved to Mahogany it would take me a day and a half just to accumulate 300 KMs.  But, today I couldn’t do it just to be with family.  Deep down, I think I know I want to just try and replace this sorrow, and misery with a bit of normalcy, as much as we can, or at least as much as we ever will.  The only way to probably do that is to be in one place, with everyone and relish Christmas Day, to just fucking do it.  Even if we are forever without one, we are always going to be, but are we going to run forever? … Probably.

I do not mean to drag you down today if you are reading this in-between whatever it is you do on days like today, I do not mean to search for sympathy, and it certainly is not my intention to in any way steal Christmas spirits from you if you are reading.  Merely,  I am once again writing what I am completely incapable of speaking, and sharing verbally, to those who matter most.  Though we likely are all feeling the exact same In Edmonton, In Calgary, In Victoria, In Vegreville and in Mayerthorpe, but we leave the elephant to dance in the room.

Though, if there is anything I can do… though, this may be cheesy, is I will tell you this, and hell do I ever mean it…. Just enjoy today.  Celebrate, and be merry today, for what today is, and for what today is meant to be; Christmas Day.  Do not take today, and the moments that come with it for granted, not for a single second.  Enjoy it all. Soak it all in.

Stop for a second, look around and appreciate what’s around you, even if it is the in-laws, and cousins of their cousins.  Wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, even if you just did, and even if it’s the forty-second time you’ve said “Merry Christmas” today. Mean it more than the last.  Look around again, and tell them you love them, say thank you, and be sincere.

Hold your friends and family a little tighter when you hug them, laugh a little louder today, smile for a little bit longer today, even if it is black socks you just unwrapped out of that gigantic box that you thought for sure was a PS4.  Don’t miss the point.  The point is celebration, the point is togetherness, and the point is family.  For one day, today will just be another day of the week for you, though I hope not for many, many decades, the fact is life can be unruly, cruel, and even more life is unknowing, it can change, it can change instantly, and drastically when you least expect it, and when you’re least prepared.  So let today be very merry, and please, for sake of us who cannot share the same merriness and cheer anymore.   For those of us who are just amidst their 51st Wednesday of the year, Please, and damnit do I mean it when I say this…  Please, Enjoy the living hell out of today. Don’t let it just be Wednesday, December 25, 2013.

Let it be Christmas…  Even if all you got was reindeer pyjamas and black socks.  One day those might be all you have left from today.

God Bless you, Thank you so much for reading. 

Merry Christmas, and please have one hell of a holiday. 

Blair

Crazy to want this, even for a while.

 

A letter to the kids & the parents.

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It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.

Hello All,

Hope summer has been a treat for you all.  Mine has just concluded as of this past weekend with the kick off to another hockey season.  It’s August 12. And, I’ve already hit the 4-straight-days-on-the-ice mark.  Which, seems rather early.  Though it seems earlier each year.  However, I’m not really complaining.  It’s my choice. I absolutely love doing it. Each season is an absolute blast, thus it’s a little easier to get back to the rink August 12th.  I look forward to seeing some returning faces to the herd, and some new faces eager to make the squad and become apart of it.

The next 6 weeks are the toughest for us coaches as we spend hours upon hours at the arena, followed by hours upon hours at a table somewhere, sometimes at an arena, sometimes (If I am lucky) at a pub, and we try to get it right.  Then, we hit the sheets, only to wake up do our 9-5 and do it all over again.  For 6 weeks. But, we absolutely love it.  Though It’s taxing & exhausting, it does not compare to the pressures that these young men face. 13 & 14 years old.  160+ kids try out for our association, with our team being the pinnacle group.  For the first week, teams will scrimmage against one another, alternating opponents each night.  Easy? Sure. Queue, about 15 of us in the stands whispering to each other, and writing on our clipboards, making note of each and every play, and player.  Not so easy anymore for these kids.  We take 19 of that 160+. 19. That’s just over 10% of kids trying out will actually make the top team. And, that only then becomes step one.

It’s tough.  These kids are 14, and their entire year as a 14 year old basically goes into the arduous month long process of making “the team”.  There’s parents, There’s coaches, there’s friends, teammates, there’s teachers. All pressuring the players to DO BETTER!  That’s not all either, even at 14, there can be prospective agents (most of whom are complete rats), but oh there are scouts, junior coaches, bloggers, other parents especially whom love to have an opinion on a grade 9 student regarding his ability to save the day, and more importantly the city. “THIS kid WILL be the next 99. HE WILL.” “ARE YOU NUTS – YOU MUST BE HIS DAD CAUSE HE SUCKS!” …He’s umm 14 you guys…

He’s still learning the history of his very own country in social, then he’s just beginning algebra after he wakes up from that class.  Not to be outdone by the English teacher down the hall, whom is chomping at the bit with piles of “The Hounds of The Baskervilles” homework.  Then we go home and beg our parents to help us with all this surmounting work, and maybe do a book report or two because I have practice. And I HAVE to make the team.  How can I have time for all this homework?  I have hockey.

As part coaches who are fortunate enough to lead these fine young men at such a level, I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that family & school are always, absolutely always the first and foremost important thing when it comes to a young adults life.  Hockey is third. Regardless of the team you play on, or you want to play on.  And, if there is a coach out there who says otherwise, I want you to eat the grill of my F150, cause you deserve that and nothing less.   But, anyway, best of luck trying to tell these young men this.  You can tell them? But, realistically, how can you expect them to understand this right now?  They have more weight on their shoulders from their peers and surroundings then anyone else I know.  And, they’re just 14.

It’s not just bantam hockey players, I am sure this argument could be made for many different fields or sports just change the game and age if you please.  But, this is the world I see every day.

The pressures that are on these young men and women is terrorizing, utterly damaging.  It is no wonder the rate of depression & suicide continues to skyrocket in younger people, and continues to climb as one of the leading causes of death.  How can any kid be happy, or satisfied when expectations of them are absolutely unrealistic before their life has really even begun? When they’re constantly failing the readers, the dads, and the moms.  So ya didn’t make the AAA team? Or lead the league? So ya didn’t earn top student honors? So ya didn’t win the little league world series as clean up batter and pitch 7 straight like Dad told ya to do? So fucking what. What next? Your life is over? You’re a complete failure? You let dad down, you let mom down?  Fuck off. You’re a kid.  Do you know that just because you didn’t make the AAA team, or that you weren’t top student that you won’t earn a phD? Or be ridicously wealthy, or better yet happy because you created some kind of change that made this shitty place a better one? Do you know that these outcomes and more of the like are impossible, because at 14 you didn’t achieve a goal that someone wanted for you more then you wanted yourself?

No. Not likely kid.

Some of the best players I have ever had the opportunity to coach weren’t necessarily the most skilled, or talented ones.  But, they were the best kids. They were the best people. They smiled every day. They had fun. Sure, they had ups and downs, hell,  they went through life, life outside of the hours of practice in a week, but they had fun, they learned. It’s amazing how truly mature some of these young athletes can be, some 14 year olds seem like they’re 44 for fucksakes! These are the type of people you know that will succeed in life, whether it is at hockey, or whether it is at something entirely separate but you just know they’re on the right path heading for complete greatness.   As for par with the handful of these kids I’ve come across, you see it in their parents.  Their parents aren’t the ones attacking others in the blogs, they aren’t cohorting with the GM of the Saginaw Ice Queens every intermission lathering him with a Double Thai Chi fucking Latte in a double cup with a warm sleeve so Steve & Andy don’t burn a hole in their newly purchased designer leather mitts.  No. They watch their kids do what they love to do. Play. And, the only reason the kid loves to do that…. Is cause the parents let him just play.

So, my words to all trying to achieve a goal of making a team this season whether it be ours, or whether it be elsewhere.

Control what you can control. You can control your work ethic.  You can control your attitude. You can control your body language. You, unfortunately have absolutely no control about what us coaches talk about in the war room. You, unfortunately, unlikely have any control over your parents.  But, above all, you can control if you’re having fun or not.  If you’re not having fun, and you’re only doing it cause Dad wants you to.  Tell him to fuck off & stop.  You have way too much future ahead of you to waste time doing something you don’t want, something that doesn’t bring you happiness.  Control what you can gentleman, and enjoy it.  It’s a tough 6 weeks trying out for teams.  But, I can guarantee if you do not have fun throughout the process. You won’t be apart of the outcome you’re hoping for. Do it for you & no one else. It’s your life. Smile. It’s hockey.

It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.