Fam­ily and hockey at Christ­mas time

CBN sports fig­ures share their hol­i­day mem­o­ries

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Ev­ery­one has that one Christ­mas mem­ory.

It usu­ally re­volves around a cou­ple of things, a cou­ple of hol­i­day sta­ples that de­fine more hol­i­day mem­o­ries.

Santa, fam­ily and, if you’re old enough, a few adult bev­er­ages are all hall­marks of a suc­cess­ful Christ­mas mem­ory.

Th­ese rec­ol­lec­tions trump all else dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. It can be that one gift you re­ceived as a child, or grow­ing up to learn the sea­son is much more than just giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing things.

Maybe it is watch­ing TSN’s count­down of the top-100 plays of the year ev­ery Christ­mas Eve with your fam­ily, or that Wayne Gret­zky two-piece hockey stick you got when you were 10. Per­haps your favourite hol­i­day mem­ory is just the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence of get­ting to­gether with fam­ily.

That’s the beauty of the sea­son. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less and it re­ally is what you make of it.

It doesn’t have to be sport­ing re­lated, it doesn’t even have to be Christ­mas re­lated. It is en­tirely dealer’s choice when it comes to the hol­i­days. That is the magic of Christ­mas. But, how do var­i­ous mem­bers of the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia sport­ing com­mu­nity best re­mem­ber the hol­i­days?

The Com­pass polled a few peo­ple from across the re­gion. The re­sponses var­ied, but one thing was a con­stant — it was not about the gifts.

Christian Dawe, de­fence­man with the Tri Pen Os­prey

Co­ley’s Point’s Christian Dawe had trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing that par­tic­u­lar gift he re­ceived that stands above all else.

For the Level III As­cen­sion Col­le­giate stu­dent, Christ­mas was never about what he was re­ceiv­ing.

When he was younger, it was cross­ing the Klondyke bridge to see the Bay Roberts Lions Club Santa Claus Pa­rade ev­ery year.

“The pa­rade was al­ways a big thing,” said Dawe.

As he grew older, Dawe came to ap­pre­ci­ate that other side of the sea­son. The other side in­cludes get­ting to­gether with fam­ily and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the time they have to spend with each other.

Things like vis­it­ing a par­tic­u­lar fam­ily mem­ber’s home for tra­di­tional Christ­mas din­ner, for ex­am­ple.

“It is about get­ting to­gether more than gifts now,” said Dawe.

Claudette Pittman, pres­i­dent of Pla­cen­tia Mi­nor Hockey

Like a lot of peo­ple, Christ­mas is about fam­ily for Fox Har­bour’s Claudette Pittman. Ev­ery year since she was a child, up un­til a decade ago, Pittman and her ex­tended fam­ily would go to Christ­mas Eve mass.

Some of her most cher­ished mem­o­ries come from the visit to her grand­par­ents house af­ter­wards. They would open their gifts, while a kitchen party en­sued, com­plete with an ac­cor­dian player.

“It was some­thing that hap­pened ev­ery year,” she said.

Tracy Shute, Eastlink CeeBee Stars ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber

It is fam­ily and hockey at Christ­mas time for Tracy Shute and her fam­ily.

“We have a big fam­ily,” she said. “So, it’s all about big fam­ily meals.”

Tra­di­tion­ally, the big meal is held at her mother’s house in Har­bour Grace. There could be as many as 30 peo­ple, rang­ing in age from two to 65, all tak­ing part in the gath­er­ing.

“It is def­i­nitely fam­ily for me,” said Shute. “It is ab­so­lute mad­ness.”

Much like it is for hockey fans in the rest of Canada, Christ­mas for the Shutes also means it’s time for the World Ju­nior Hockey Cham­pi­onships.

It is some­thing Shute shared with her brothers, but also with her two sons, Jack and Daniel.

“We’ll have Team Canada par­ties for the games,” said Shute.

What hap­pens when the games in­ter­fere with the meals?

They do both, ac­cord­ing to Shute.

Dean Whe­lan, on-ice of­fi­cial Cee­Bees Mi­nor Hockey

Har­bour Grace’s Dean Whe­lan is an of­fi­cial and a coach in the Cee­Bees Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion in Har­bour Grace.

When asked about his favourite Christ­mas mem­ory, two sprung to mind. Both re­volve around fam­ily, but from dif­fer­ent eras.

When Whe­lan was grow­ing up, a big tra­di­tion re­volved around Box­ing Day.

“We al­ways vis­ited fam­ily,” he said. “We also anx­iously awaited Christ­mas morn­ing to play with my brothers and their gifts.”

Co­in­ci­den­tally, flash for­ward many years and Whe­lan ex­pe­ri­ences another tra­di­tion on Box­ing Day.

He and his fam­ily spend much of the hol­i­days glued to their tele­vi­sion sets in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the an­nual World Ju­nior Hockey Cham­pi­onships.

“We do it ev­ery year,” said Whe­lan.

The 2015 edi­tion is be­ing held be­tween Toronto and Mon­treal. The home team tra­di­tion­ally gets things started on Dec. 26. This year, Canada will square off with Slo­vakia.

“The opener is al­ways ex­cit­ing,” said Whe­lan. “It is the first look at the team other than ex­hi­bi­tion games.”

There you have it. Christ­mas mem­o­ries of vary­ing de­gree that make men­tion of all the things that make the hol­i­days great — pa­rades, fam­ily and hockey.

Claudette Pittman

Tracy Shute

Christian Dawe

Dean Whe­lan

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