I didn't grow up with bucolic scenes of ice skating on frozen ponds and earmuffs fluffy and cute on my head.
Instead, my early ice-skating memories take place in the mall. Whitesnake, Journey or something else très '80s blared as we teetered around under fluorescent lights. Then, famished, we went to a parlor to eat deep-dish pizza and play Ms. Pac-Man.
Yet I still feel a Rockwellian longing about ice skating during the holiday season.
Last week during a visit to Seventh Mountain Resort, I felt that wave of nostalgia at the idea of gliding on ice, perhaps with hot cocoa in hand.
I hadn't even come to ice skate — my daughter's school holds its annual holiday recital there. But a storm had swept through just moments before, coating the ground and trees with fresh snow. A twinkling spray of stars filled the sky. The natural splendor, plus festive white lights, framed the Seventh Mountain's outdoor ice rink.
And those people gliding on the ice genuinely looked like they were having fun.
It was an ah-ha moment: An ideal time to try out your skating legs — particularly if you adore Jingle Bell-schmoopiness like I do — is during the holidays.
There are opportunities for ice skating throughout Central Oregon, with supervised, maintained rinks in Bend, Redmond and Sunriver (see “If you go"). All rent ice skates. While they will all be operating for the winter months, weather permitting, Seventh Mountain Resort and The Village at Sunriver Ice Rink both are offering extended hours through the next week and a half.
Days later, full of cheer, I packed my husband and daughter into the car for an early evening outing at The Village at Sunriver's ice skating rink.
Central Oregonians who haven't been to Sunriver lately will find the village transformed. The '70s facades are gone, and the multimillion-dollar remodeling job has attracted new businesses to make for vacation-in-my-backyard quaintness.
The ice rink underwent an upgrade about two years ago as part of that process. It's open-air yet covered, and see-through screens can be pulled down along the sides to accommodate for blustery weather.
There is also a heated room where one can sit and watch the skaters through large windows. Its best feature is a gas fireplace that also faces the outside, where there are several stone benches facing it.
We gingerly stepped out on to the ice. I'm not sure Norman Rockwell envisioned his skaters listening to a reggae version of “The Little Drummer Boy." But even so, the snow was fluttering down and the scene was lovely.
Hockey players also regularly use this rink, as the paint beneath the ice indicates. Several skaters this night seemed to know what they were doing. One tween in royal blue pants executed spins and extended her leg behind her like a ballerina, producing wide-eyed delight in my 4-year-old.
We broke from ice-skating idyll by making our daughter wear her bike helmet. There's something to be said about modern parenting here, and how it's astounding I survived some of my helmetless stunts of yore on bikes and Big Wheels, but I recoil at the vision of my girl's head smashing onto the ice.
It was her first experience on ice skates. My back ached a bit as I bent down, alternatively supporting her weight and breaking her falls.
Then, she started standing better on her own. We slowly glided side by side, tightly gripping each other's hands.
By the end of our hour or so on ice, she didn't want me to hold her. “Mommy, stop touching me! Mommy, stop skating behind me!"
I relented, and for the most part, I let her go.
Off she went, creating her own childhood memories. How about that for holiday preciousness.