Sunday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. The parking lot of the Geneva Recreational Complex, more commonly known as the downtown ice rink or “The Cooler.”
It may be an unexpected place for warm holiday fuzzy feelings, but even the most ordinary scenes can sometimes create nostalgia out of thin air.
So, there I was at that exact time and place, and here’s the rest of the story from my point of view:
With snow gracefully falling from the dark sky lit up by the street lamps, I walked into a rink to play pickup hockey, my oversized bag slung over my right shoulder, sticks in my left hand, a week before Christmas.
This literally is my happy place. It’s what I dream of at night.
I described it to my best friend — who is not a sports guy and has never played hockey. He said, “That is literally magical,” not because he could relate to it, but I imagine because he could feel my happiness through the phone and could hear the excitement in my voice when I told him about it.
After two hours of dirty dangles, lazy back-checking and gasping for air, I enjoyed a locker-room … “beverage” before heading back out to that parking lot, where snow was still falling and my car was slightly covered. I loaded my hockey gear into the trunk and headed home.
That is literally what the Tim Hortons holiday commercials in Canada look like: Unloading and loading hockey gear in the dark with snow falling around the holidays.
It is also my own little slice of holiday heaven. For anyone else, it could be a Christmas morning walk along a Florida beach, an NBA basketball binger from midday to midnight, a day spent in the kitchen making food, or pulling out a special wine that’s been patiently waiting.
Whatever brings you joy, seek it out during the holidays. Because while there are waves of sad feelings and depression in these dark winter months there also is much joy to be found. I love winter, but personal circumstances pushed me back into a mental rut for the past few weeks — not wanting to leave bed, ignoring texts and calls, self-medicating through food, and a general dark cloud hovering over me since Thanksgiving.
But Sunday night — in that nothing-special parking lot, walking into my local rink to play hockey, with snow softly falling, a week before Christmas — snatched me right out of that mental rut. A full forty-eight hours later, I am still getting waves of serotonin from that happy place I unexpectedly found myself in.
My mom has always told me that if you don’t have time, make time, and I think that somewhat applies to making your own happiness as well. But sometimes, when you’re in a mental rut and joy eludes you for whatever reason, ordinary moments may have the hidden warmth that so many seek during the holiday season.
Trust me when I say: They are there, please look up.