As we hussled about the house, gathering hats and gloves, I asked Jared if he was going to bring the camera for this momentus occasion. “Momentus occasion, huh?”, he replied.
“Um, yeah this is my first time ice skating, ever.” I entered the doorway of the living room where Jared was slipping his shoes on to see the shocked look I knew he had on his face.
“Your first time, ever? I thought you just meant your first time in a long time, like since you were a kid.”
“No, I actually meant first time ever, when I said, first time ever. Remember last year how I said I wanted to go ice skating pretty much every weekend for the entire winter?”
“No…” (Tragically, he didn’t remember any of this. I have since noted that I need to get better at hinting.)
“Oh man, this is going to be interesting!” he gaffed, clearly visualizing me barely being able to stand on my feet.
And off we went to Cunningham Park. A park where we take Apollo all winter long, and occassionally in the fall for a special trip. We’ve been going there for a few years now, driving right past the field that gets flooded into a pond during the winter. For as many times as we’ve driven down the long, winding path that leads back into the woods, I had never had a feeling of nervousness come over me.
As we got closer to the pond, we saw kids playing hockey, a young brother and sister racing each other as their dad looked on and a little boy about 5, walking in his skates as his grandfather held him up firmly under each arm.
We sat in the car, and looked at each other for a moment and just laughed. We were really about do this? I asked Jared if he was going to be embarassed by me and he said no, he was worried about embarrassing himself since he hadn’t skated in years.
As we found our way to an empty bench, Johnny Highschool showed up in his Chevy Blazer and started unloading hockey sticks and equipment. Great we both thought, just what we need, a bigger audience. But we were there, with our brand new skates and nothing was going to stop us from getting out on the ice. So we laced up.
Jared ventured onto the ice first and his skating abilities from grade school came back to him with ease. Then it was my turn. Step one: stand up.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh, oh – why is it so slippery?!?”, I gasped, without concern of sounding like an idiot.
“Because it’s ice,” Jared replied, gaining Captain Obvious status.
But the thin metal blades beneath my feet felt as if I was standing on a rocking chair – too far forward or backward and I was going to be flat on my bottom. So Jared skated over to me and took my hands, pulling my out of my comfort zone. I was being dragged along the ice, stiff legged and giggling. We stopped, Jared let go and there I stood. In the middle of the ice, an almost 26 year old woman with kids 1/5th of my age wizzing around the pond. I couldn’t let them show me up like that.
So Jared came back and held just one hand this time, coaching me to let my feet naturally slide out to the side and push off with my back foot. We skated side by side, hand in hand as I slowly learned. Then he let go again and there I stood. With the option to stay put, or move forward on my own. And before I even realized it, I was off, skating after Jared like I had been doing it all my life.
This was our Christmas present to each other. We racked our brains for weeks, trying to be creative and come up with awesome gifts while not spending too much, only to realize it was impossible. Finally, we both conceded and agreed to not worry about gifts and rather think about something we can do together and just enjoy Christmas. So off we went to buy ourselves some ice skates. The woman at the cash register asked if they were for us and we looked at each other, nodded and said “Yup”.
Because for us, Christmas is not about spending money, its about spending time. It’s not about having the latest clothes, DVDs or video games, it’s about having fun. It’s not about complaining about what you don’t have, it’s about being thankful for what you do.
So with this Christmas, Jared and I have started a new tradition. Spending time, instead of money.