The Competition of Thanksgiving and Hockey
From the time they were in kindergarten, the sport of choice in our sons’ lives was ice hockey. They were hockey players who skated early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and of course, holidays. If you haven’t had the experience, you won’t know what that means to Thanksgiving. First, many teams would find “cheap ice” for Thanksgiving, making it imperative that players get out for an early morning skate on Thursday - Thanksgiving day. And, the fact that school was closed for this four-day weekend, Thanksgiving also offered a perfect opportunity for out-of-town tournaments, usually in Michigan or Minnesota. A tournament in Minneapolis or just outside Detroit is close enough that you pack up the car and drive. That means most hockey families are out on the road Thanksgiving day. They deal with the dilemma of finding a meal time late enough for the meal to be called supper and early enough to be done with and safely start a six-hour road trip. Some years we ate Thanksgiving dinner at 1:00 p.m. I would get up at the crack of dawn to set the table and start the turkey and stuffing. By noon the potatoes were boiling and vegetable side dishes were prepared in anticipation of room in the oven or on the stove top. By the time the boys and their dad were up and about, the Thanksgiving table was fully dressed with the good dishes, glassware and silverware. The napkins were neatly folded at each place setting, and the smell of a roasting turkey already filled the house. Those Thanksgiving dinners weren’t very relaxing. In fact, they were challenging. The Thanksgiving meal tradition was observed and packing for the road trip included turkey sandwiches, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. So maybe these were not my favorite Thanksgiving celebrations – all those years of youth hockey – but we still managed to sit together as a family and celebrate our holiday in true fashion.