The Christmas Skaters

Christmas 1971. One of my favourite memories. I was six, my sister, Shelley was four. The kitchen floor had been laid a few days before with brand new lino. It was pale blue, smooth as the surface of a winter pond just frozen over.

Shelley and I had ballet slippers. Knitted. Mine were purple, Shelley’s were pink. Neither of us did ballet, but we liked the slippers. The woollen slippers slid on the lino. We pretended we were ice skaters. We didn’t know any famous ice-skaters or the names of any of the technical moves but we could glide and slide and twirl.

We used to skate for hours, steering ourselves on the doorhandles of the kitchen cabinets, imagining ourselves on the largest winter lake in the world; fairy children performing for the fairy queen herself.

If the nights were really dark we would put torches at either end of the floor. Our shadows moved alongside us so that suddenly we were a troupe of skaters. If we waved our arms it was as if an audience sat in the mezzanine level of the kitchen theatre, shaking their woollen scarves in approval.

Sometimes the windows would freeze over. Ridges would form. White, icy steps up a mountain. It was like skating inside a Christmas card. We imagined we were little pop-up dolls covered in glitter, surprising the recipient of the card with our jolly Merry Christmas.

The years pass. We move on, away from childhood memories that disperse lightly as if they are made of the very air that formed them. The kitchen where we skated may not be there any more. The lino will have long been replaced.

But the essence of the joy contained in that simplest of games remains, lingering like a soft wind thrown down by the winter trees, sometimes behind us, sometimes beside us. Always present, dropping gentle as melting snow, at Christmastime.

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17 thoughts on “The Christmas Skaters

  1. Oh gosh we did skating too. My father cut us this big sheet of some kind of plywood but it was shiny and smooth. It was so we could do jigsaws but it was big enough to fit under the bed – single bed size. So my sister and I used to do what you and your sister did. How odd! I hadn’t thought of that for years.

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  2. Oh what a lovely story Sel, thanks for sharing this. I could envision your “rink” and the fun you had with your sis. It’s helped to put me in the Christmas spirit. Actually a few things this week have helped with that…including volunteering for helping out at some local Christmas events for those in need. It’s been a hard year in many ways, for many of us but I do think that things are going to improve a lot in 2010, I feel it.

    to you and your family Sel, I wish you a wonderful holiday and much happiness in 2010. 🙂

    Many hugs, G

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  3. Hi HEATHER,
    I can imagine you and your brothers doing things like this. It’s these little moments that make Christmas and childhood so special. I’ll never forget how much I enjoyed being a lino-skater!

    RELUCS:
    I always wanted a sheet to do jigsaws on. I had to do them on a card table that was never long enough. I’m thinking about starting to do them again. I didn’t know it, but apparently there is a local Jigsaw Appreciation Society. It always amazes me what people are into!

    GERALDINE:
    I feel like some metaphorical tide has turned too. Look at it this way – 2010 couldn’t be any worse. Ha ha. Volunteering always lifts my spirits. It sort of reinforces that there are many wonderful people out there.

    A very Merry Christmas to you too. XXXX

    JENNIFER:
    Oh yes. Yes! Those dresses were the best, weren’t they? I had one with purple polka dots. I thought I was the bees knees in that. I couldn’t walk properly for all the twirling I was doing!

    TIMOTEO:
    And to you too. It has been great getting to know you this year. Have a very Merry Christmas!!

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  4. Lovely memory. I had to laugh but because that it the sort of thing I still do – when we got a timber floor lacquered a few years back I was skating around in my socks having a great time (until we had to put the furniture back).

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  5. Hi Selma, great memory. I’d like to share one with you.

    It was Christmas day 1971; I was 8 years old. As you know, Christmas time in Australia is summertime. A time of HEAT and HUMIDITY, so you can imagine my delight when on that particular Christmas morning, my brothers (9 and 3 years old) and I went to the lounge room and saw that Santa had filled it with inflated beach balls, pool ponies, mats, and snorkels, flippers, beach towels, and a whole host of other pool, beach paraphernalia. It was a bright, colourful, summertime wonderland. And, best of all, there was an above ground pool which my father set up in the backyard. It was small and only waist deep, but my brothers (and my sister when she arrived in 1972) enjoyed that pool for many years.

    May you and yours have a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

    DavidM
    We Mascellani kids were lino-skaters!

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  6. I loved this story because I always wanted to be an ice skater. Childhood memories like these are simple, innocent and so very special. I have many just like it and thank you for reminding me to think of them more often.

    Just in case I don’t get back in time Sel, I hope you and your family have a very special and Happy Christmas. Much love from me to you xxxx

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  7. We did skating for real in Germany; if there wasn’t a convenient frozen pond.the ice rink wansn’t too far away.

    One thing puzzles me, though … we’d usually wear ski pants, heavy sweater, gloves and a scarf, but the contestants in ‘Dancing on Ice’ seem to get away with wearing next to nothing.

    Mind you, heavy clothing does make for a softer landing if you don’t get it right 😀

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  8. 1971. The year I was born. 😉

    I didn’t do so much “skating”, as it was ballerina dancing that filled my head. I can’t tell you how many times, unofficially of course, I’ve danced in the nutcracker. lol!

    Imagination is the ultimate toy!

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  9. Recently,I really enjoy puling out old pictures and looking at how happy I was as a child. And , how important the holidays were. They still are in a way… but I sure miss being with family.
    I greatly enjoyed your story Selma. The essence of the joy in that simplest of games does remain.

    Merry Christmas !

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  10. What a lovely story. I can picture two little girls skating on the lino so perfectly…….skating with abandon. 🙂 We have many outdoor rinks here at this time of year. My office window used to look out at the one located downtown and I loved watching the skaters young and old out there at various times of the day….. wondering about their thoughts as they glided around and around……..

    Merry Christmas Selma…….. May joy find you and kiss you on the forehead. xx

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  11. Only 90 minutes to go here Sel so I’m back in time to wish you and your lovely family a wonderful Christmas. May it be everything you want it to be and may happiness always find you wherever you may be. Much love my little Aussie mate xxxx

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  12. I feel ya. My sister and I did ballet “skits” to the mystical music of “Hall of the Mountain King”. Naturally, we rocked it all over the place; however, that all ended when I performed an amazingly mad pirouette but then tipped over, smacking my head on the very sharp corner of a circa 1960s coffee table. There may have been some loud and uncontrollable crying involved.

    First-time visitor to your site. You write well.

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  13. GABRIELLE:
    I love doing that type of thing too. It is so much fun. I also love rolling down grassy hills and jumping on those jumping castles at fairs. Guess I’m still a big kid at heart!

    DAVID:
    What a beautiful memory. I can just imagine the delight you must have felt seeing all those colourful toys in the pool. I would have been beside myself. Thanks for sharing such a special Christmas memory.

    GYPSY:
    Much love to you too. Hope you had a wonderful day XXX

    TRAVELRAT:
    Those flimsy clothes sure wouldn’t offer much protection. But hey, they look good so that’s all that counts. 😀

    TEXASBLU:
    Awww. That is such a lovely thought. Who can resist the Nutcracker? I wouldn’t have minded dancing in it myself!

    PUNATIK:
    It is the simplest things things in life that usually bring the most joy for me. And for some reason they stick in my mind more clearly. Aaah, those were the days!

    DANA:
    I love outdoor rinks. They are so much fun. I love to skate on them but i also love to watch other people skate on them. You give the best Christmas wishes!

    FRAGRANT LIAR:
    Thank you so much for visiting. I really appreciate it. Hall of the Mountain King would have been perfect skating music. I know all about those 1960s coffee tables. Ouch!

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