On Saturday, my husband and I took our oldest grandson, who has just turned 11, to a Rebel’s hockey game.
“Happy birthday, grandson,” I said, proudly, hoping my smile would reach across the table at the pizza place where we were having his birthday supper, and connect with his serious, grey green eyes and make them smile, too.
The tickets were, of course, our gift to him.
However, if the honest to goodness truth were known, for me, at least, the tickets were a gift for us, too.
Imagine being lucky enough to sit with your grandson, a boy just turned 11, watching the game, cheering when the home team scored, yelling, stamping your feet, eating junk food and just being one with the noisy, enthusiastic fans spilling out of the bleachers.
“You can have whatever you want to eat,” I said, my generosity, because of the gift I had given to me, knowing no bounds. “We had found our seats and hit the concession almost simultaneously.
“What do you want me to have, grandma?” he said politely.
“I want you to eat lots of junk food and go back for more,” I said seriously.
“I want you to eat lots and cheer really loudly and just have so much fun. I want you to be inspired by the players, not because they won, but because they tried so hard and, even from the stands where we were, you could see the sweat that beaded their brow and watch how, during the last minute of play in the tie game, their eyes were riveted to the score clock.
I want you to be just happy and excited for no other reason than you are here at a hockey game in a nice, warm arena sitting with two people who love you very much.
And, some day, when you are all grown up and sitting in the stands with your buddies watching a hockey game somewhere, I hope that you will have a sudden flashback about one night just after you turned 11 when you were sitting with your grandparents in a nice, warm arena and you were happy.
And I hope you will remember the crowd and the excitement and the cheering and how the game finally ended in a shoot-out, and your grandma cried when the other team scored.
“I’m kidding! I did not cry, but it was sad, though. The goalie looked like he was about ready to cry, too.
Anyway, the game ended and I folded up the blanket that we didn’t need and my grandson put all the garbage we had accumulated in the garbage receptacle.
I watched him, thinking our planet will be in good hands if his behavior is at all indicative of the next generation.
“It was good hockey,” my husband said to his grandson. “But not as good as yours,” he added gently.
And we agreed pond hockey, when your grandson is on one of the teams, is probably the best hockey there is!
But sitting next to him at a Rebel’s game is pretty good, too.
In fact, it’s probably the next best thing!