Not everyone gets to go see the Kitchener Rangers play hockey. Not everyone knows what a zamboni machine is. Not everyone gets a hockey stick and a puck for Christmas from their grandparents and plays street hockey.
I do. Well, sort of. I didn't get a hockey stick and a puck from my grandparents for Christmas, and I'm not exactly sure how to spell zamboni. Can you just bear with me here?
I just got back from the land of hockey and I wanted to share with you some things you should know if you ever return from the land of hockey. I suppose it's not so much what you should know, it's more precisely what you should do if you ever get the chance to return from the land of hockey.
1. Unpack all luggage, not just yours but everyone else's who went with you, and make a huge pile of dirty laundry in the middle of a room, preferably your laundry room. When the pile is about as tall as you are, sort through it and then start washing. Keep washing. Don't stop. Fold. Put away. This will take a long time so prepare yourself for a day of laundry endlessness.
2. Open your fridge and marvel at the emptiness. Endlessness and emptiness. It's really not that bad. No milk. No fruit. Not much of anything. You can do this. Grab a pen, a piece of paper and start writing. It's time. Time for a grocery list. Your mind may still be lingering on what you saw in the laundry room, so it really is best to write things down. You'll thank yourself when you're standing in the grocery store with your mouth hanging open, your thoughts on a laundry mountain and your heart somewhere between the land of hockey and the grocery store.
3. Go to the grocery store. Don't forget to change out of your pajamas and brush your teeth. A hat may be a good option since your hair might not be at it's very best. While at the grocery store you may have trouble focusing. It's been a while since you've had to cook. Wait, no, it can't be. That person you just heard is not your mother. It may have sounded like her, you may wish it was her since she is a good cook and took care of all of your most recent meals, but remember she is in the land of hockey and you are here. When you pass the spice section don't forget to pick up 'Mrs. Dash'. Your sister, whom you truly believe is the best cook in the world, told you she uses it, and so you must use it as well.
4. Return home. Unload groceries. Fold laundry. Put away laundry. Put more dirty laundry into the washing machine to make it clean. Make lunch. Brush your teeth because you forgot before you went to the grocery store. Try to stop thinking about going shopping. There is too much laundry and your husband just announced that he's going to get the Christmas tree and he wants to put it up this afternoon. Christmas tree equals Christmas decorations, equals boxes and mess and chaos. Take a deep breath. Don't panic. Fold more laundry. While folding try to not to think about your friends from the land of hockey because obsessing takes time, wishing they lived closer and reliving the wonderful time you spent with them is not productive and you have laundry to do. Lots of laundry. Ruth had cute boots, Deb had such a cute coat, Susan's scarf would go so well with a lot of things and Jayne was wearing classy dark jeans. Remind yourself that buying those things won't bring them any closer. The land of hockey and your sweet friends are now 800 miles away. Deal with it. Fold.
5. While driving to the mall remind yourself that there may be a lot of people there because while you were in the land of hockey, people here were celebrating Thanksgiving, and what better way to celebrate thankfulness than to go out and buy things? You never know, maybe you'll find those cute boots, that cute coat, the versatile scarf and those classy jeans. You'll be able to wear them, think of your friends and not have to worry about copying them - they're 800 miles away. They are not going to know and for that you are thankful.
6. On returning home from the mall, don't forget to tell God thank you for the brand new coat and boots. Be fully thankful, not half thankful. Try not to think about how much more fun it would have been to shop with your sisters. Remind yourself that they are in the land of hockey and you are in the land of thankful. You are thankful, fully thankful. You can give yourself one minute to wonder if they would like your boots. You're thankful. Fold. Load the washer. Start dinner.
7. After dinner, try to answer questions in a loving way. It doesn't matter that the Christmas decorations were put away a year ago, you should still remember where everything is, how everything goes together and where to put things so they are in the exact same spot as they were last year.
8. Go sit in the bathroom for a minute. Take a deep breath. Try to block out the sounds of things falling and the chaos of Christmas that is going on outside of your temporary private world. Don't think about boxes and newspapers everywhere. Try to forget about where the heck the hooks for the ornaments are. Don't tell yourself to make a list so that on Monday you can get hooks, tinsel, lights that work and some tree ornaments to replace the ones that you just heard your daughter step on. Don't go there. Not now. Breathe. Sit still for a few minutes longer. Then, fold.
9. Put tomorrow's lunch in the crock pot so that in the morning you can grab it out of the fridge and plug it in before you head to church. This will perhaps give you more time to deal with your unruly mop of hair that has become very rebellious since you've been gone. Fold. You're getting there. Only three more loads.
10. Kiss your kids good night. Pull out the vacuum and try to get the newspaper bits, and the tinsel pieces (maybe if you'd pick them up you wouldn't have to run to Wal-Mart on Monday), then finish putting away boxes and tidying up. Look around. Wow. It looks nice. You may wonder what your mom and sisters would say if they could see it. You might think how nice it would be to have your friends from the land of hockey stop by to sit, sip tea, and take in your holiday decorations. You'd have to hide your new boots and coat but that would not be difficult. Put away that last load of laundry. Don't worry about tomorrow and your unruly hair. Don't forget to say thank you for your time in the land of hockey, your home here, for friends in both places, and for your dear, sweet family who'll be waiting for you the next time you make the trip.
11. Go to bed.