Hockey Season Is Here! How This Family Tradition Began
This time of year, whenever I’m not busy in the office, I am usually watching my favorite hockey teams. The hockey season is something I look forward to every fall. Growing up in Fort Worth, we were never exposed to hockey very much. We saw a couple of games by the Flying Fathers, who, as I remember it, were sort of the Harlem Globetrotters of hockey. But I never understood the game until a friend of mine in law school explained it to me. Since we were both in Houston working for different law firms for the summer, and we didn’t have anything else to do (Wendy stayed inWaco working), he and I would watch the Colorado Avalanche games after work. I think that was the last year they won the Stanley Cup, so we got to watch a lot of games. Once I understood what was going on, I was hooked. I started watching it pretty regularly, trying to catch every game I could. Eventually, I became so familiar with the game that I could identify the players just by how they skated. (That was way back when I had much more time than I have now.) During my first year right after law school, I clerked in Austin for the Texas Supreme Court. The court administrator for the judge I worked for loved hockey too and suggested I go watch the Ice Bats, a minor league team in Austin. My daughter, Grace, about 5 years old at the time, came with me. She had a lot of fun, more because of the cotton candy, bounce house, and popcorn than the actual game, but I always had a good time with her. She loved coming to the games because she was such a cute kid and always got attention, plus she got to blow bubbles in her drink, which was a big no-no when we were around Mom! I remember a few hockey games with Grace vividly. During one of the first we attended together, a fight broke out between a couple of players on each team, and the crowd started to cheer. She was very upset and concerned about them fighting. She was just a little, bitty thing at the time and a very caring kid. I had to explain why, although she shouldn’t fight, it was okay for them. Talk about a tricky conversation! Sometimes, we would meet up before the game to hang out with a few friends who were season-ticket holders. There was an area in the arena for these folks to hang out and get a few drinks or something to eat before the game started. Although we didn’t have season tickets, we could go with them to hang out. It was a good place to talk about the teams and hear about what the players were up to. One night while Grace and I were there, someone taught her how to hold her glass in her left hand so she can meet people and shake hands with her right. That way, she didn’t have to switch hands or shake with a cold hand. She was pretty dang cute.
Another game that I laugh about now, although I was a little mortified at myself at the time, was the one when I accidentally taught Grace how to look out for the beer man. We were at a Dallas Stars game, and Grace had her heart set on snacking. She’d say, “Daddy, can I have some popcorn?” A little while later, “Daddy, can I have some popcorn?”This was repeated over and over and over again. You get the idea. She wore me down, so I told her, “Okay, the next time you see the popcorn guy walking around, we’ll get you some.” It wasn’t long afterward that she started jumping up and down yelling, “There he is! There he is!” Right afterward, he shouted, “Popcorn! Peanuts! Cold Beer!” and then I realized I had inadvertently taught her to look for the beer guy. While Grace got her popcorn and was very happy, I just had to laugh. Going to hockey games is a fun family tradition I’m glad I can share with my daughters. This year, since Grace is now a law student in Austin (with no time for hockey games) and Elissa is a freshman at Oklahoma State, I’m looking forward to taking my youngest, Kaity, out to as many games as possible, just like we did last year.
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