A Hockey Tournament...The OTHER Holiday
As most people are savoring their holiday time off with friends, family, brunches, lunches, and no alarm clock; there are a select few who are checking their list and checking it twice, packing, reviewing itineraries and reservations, and getting up at dawn to make that early morning flight.
No, they aren't globe trotters off to some tropical location with sand, sun, and a few dozen margaritas...they are the hockey parents.
The holiday season is widely known for its share of tournaments near and far and rarely is a hockey family spared. It's become the other holiday. Just like people ask "What are you doing for the holidays?" so they say to the hockey parent "Where are you going for the tournament?"
While your neighbor is slumbering quietly next door until their late morning Starbucks run, you are making that last run to the pro shop to get skates sharpened, stock up on extra rolls of tape, and making sure that your player finally cleaned their mouth guard (you know that thing hasn't seen a sanitizing since September). You might get a latte through the drive thru if you aren't running late because your player forgot their jerseys. Not that I know anything about that.
Even those who are blessed with the in-town tournament get to plan their days around hockey because, unlike your traveling counterparts, you are probably working, going to school, and conducting life as usual. Sure, why not? Sleep is for the weak, and downtime is overrated. The fun generally begins right after Christmas Day (not counting any last minute practices leading up to it) and doesn't end until New Years Eve or New Years Day.
Most parents' "vacation" time.
Because nothing says vacation then having to drive 45 minutes in one direction with traffic during rush hour (we got some great ice times this year, she said sarcastically). Our New Years celebration will likely be pj's, Netflix, and a pizza, hopefully to celebrate a banner. We might make it to midnight, we might not, the fun is in the mystery of not knowing. We do like to party.
For those out of town, you might be watching the New Years Day Winter Classic from an airport somewhere, having collapsed the night before out of complete exhaustion. Water bottles replace champagne flutes and your party clothes are hoodies, parkas, and hand warmers...it's a very glamorous life.
Glamorous or not, it is the life we chose and despite all of the above, you'll come away with a few "wins". That outdoor pond hockey game you never get because you are from Arizona, Florida, or California. Perhaps a little tournament hardware to set off the metal detectors (small price to pay). That late night impromptu "parents only" gathering at the hotel bar sharing youth hockey stories like old cronies sharing "back when" stories down at the local dive. Then again there might be the joy of an impossible goal, a come-from-behind-win, or a highlight-worthy glove save to make all that stuff seem small.
That's the real party.
Good luck to everyone playing right now, near or far and lift your hotel bar or kitchen stash beer, wine, or water bottle to toast the greatest game, and the greatest parents...the hockey ones!