As we approach December and begin to make preparations for the holidays, many families are marking this season as the last before they send a child off to college. The golden leaves of fall will give way to the ashen branches of winter for all of us, and for those whose children seem to have suddenly grown up, the ever-shortening days are a reminder that they will soon be faced with one of the hardest tasks that comes with raising children: letting them go. The trips to buy school clothes have long passed. First dates and broken hearts have come and gone. Big games, crushes, sleepovers, best friends, vacations ... all of those things carry weight in every parent's heart.
The Junior Hockey News shared a letter given to them by a player who received it from his father and its content will make you pause to remember one piece of this, maybe all of it. Whether you're a parent or reading this from your dorm room, we think that this letter will brush up against the place inside you that you will always find a way to return to.
That place, of course, is called home.
Has it really been 18 years since I first took you skating? It feels like it was yesterday. I can remember the very first time, and the look on your face as you struggled to balance on those skates.
Has it really been 16 seasons of watching you play? Where has the time gone, how many hundreds of hours have we spent at the rink and in the car? How many trips to Tim Hortons have we made?
I find it hard to believe now, that in a few short weeks it will all come to an end. The practices, the games, the trips to buy new gear in the summer, and all the camps.
While there is a part of me that is tremendously sad that it is ending, I would not trade the sadness I feel for anything in the world. I am sad not only because of the end, but because I know how you will feel a year from now.
While it would be easy for me to be selfish and complain about it ending, I can only hope you can find a way to replace what you have always known as routine. While you may be leaving the game as a competitive player, the game should always be a part of you. The memories you have should last a lifetime. The friends you have made will always be your friends.
Take these last games and relish every minute of them. Play with a passion that will allow you to let the game go as a player and remain full with the memories it has given you. Hockey may no longer consume you, but it will always be a part of you. As you walk away, know that one day you will come back.
This is a circle. It is a family thing. One day I hope you will experience the sadness I feel today with your own son. Why? Because there is joy behind the sadness.
Through this adventure we have taken as a family, you have grown into a man. A man that any parent would be proud of. You have a future, you understand rules, and you know what it is to be a team player. You have learned to give back, and you understand what it takes to push yourself beyond what you thought you could achieve.
My joy in having watched you grow into the person that you are today will outweigh the sadness of watching these last games knowing they will be the last. My joy will one day be in watching you tie your sons skates as you pass on this tradition.
I am proud of you. Thank you for allowing me to come along this journey with you. I wouldn't trade one minute of this experience for anything.