....of course, Santa is a Habs fan...
Long time readers of EOTP know that I have two daughters, one who plays hockey, and another who is a dancer and gymnast. I've often discussed the achievements of my oldest on hockey rinks, and as she closes in on a personal achievement, a story is presently writing itself that should be posted here within a month.
Oddly, my hockey playing girl is only a casual fan of the NHL game, much more into what she's doing than needing to know if the Canadiens won the night before.
The same can't be said for my 10 year old nephew Dylan!
Dylan is a rabid Habs fan for his young age, and one of the brightest little kids I've ever known. He's quite rare in that he is extremely inquisitive about the interests he holds, wanting to learn absolutely everything he can about his favorite subjects. As kids go, he's a bright one!
When he was younger, starting at age four or five, he was completely taken with the world of prehistoric creatures and archeology. I remember him with a roomfull of replica action figures, and his ability to inform everyone about what each creature could do, when they had lived, what they preyed on, and how they became extinct.
And Dylan could also spell the names of some of these carnivorous creatures, like Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. What all looked alike to us grown ups, was as different as Georges Laraque and Doug Harvey to Dylan!
At about age seven, Dylan's imagination began being captivated by hockey, or more precisely, the Montreal Canadiens. The team's deep history, in essense, was perfect fodder for his multi tasking mind. I was pretty impressed with Dylan, when at age 8, he could tell Newsy Lalonde apart from Howie Morenz.
Dylan's favorite times each week, are when he gets to sit down with his father, and watch the Habs on T.V. I'll be picking my daughter up at school the next day, and Dylan will often run up to me and offer his quick assessment of the previous night's game.
"Did you see that goal by Sergei Kostitsyn?" he'll ask. Or, "How come the Canadiens can't beat weak teams like Tampa?"
One day, in the coming years, Dylan will take in his first Habs game at the Bell. That'll be a sight! I hope I'm priveledge to it when it happens. A few years back, his father Gerry gave me and my daughter tickets to see the Habs and Thrashers in early January at the Bell. My kid was just in awe of every single thing there.
I can't even begin to picture Dylan's first game.
Gerry, it must be said, is as dedicated a fan as his offspring. His attachment to Canadiens lore goes back much father than mine. On April 1, 1967, when Gerry was 13, he was taken by a family friend to the Forum, and with a fake press pass in hand, printed up by our father, he got to mingle about inside the Habs dressing room for a spell. He left there with the puck John Ferguson scored the game winner with, taken off the top of a bucket of ice after a 5-4 win over the Blackhawks.
That lasting impression would tend to make you a fan for life, right?
For the past three years, it has been fairly easy for me to find birthday and Christmas gifts for such an exhuberant young fan as Dylan. I'm sure he always anticipates receiving some Canadiens related gift from his Uncle Robert, and that to me is part of my Christmas fun.
This year, being the Canadiens 100th season, there is of course, no shortage of choices to gift him with.
Tradionally, we always stop over at my brothers on Christmas Eve, to exchange gifts for the kids, and pack our bellies with a great meal that my sister in law Linda, and all the family women contribute to. Last night was no exception, but for me, all I could wait for, was for Dylan to open his gift.
My wife and I had chosen, through my insistance, to get Dylan the Canadiens 10 Memorable Games DVD set. I like to offer gifts that can possibly last a lifetime, rather than a simple toy that might only hold a passing interest. This idea, for Dylan, I though was ideal.
Was he ever excited when he opened it. I'm not quite sure that he knew what it was, or even of it's existance, when he unwrapped it, but he soon understood what it was, and quickly got excited and inquisitive, as he is prone to do.
I informed him that the set went all the way back to Rocket Richard's last game, and without pause Dylan's says, "Yeah, in 1960!
Damn, he's sharp!
A little while later, while all our kids were all running about enjoying the spirit of the night, I stopped Dylan for a second, and explained to him why I chose that gift for him.
"You know, that is something that I know you will like as a ten year old, but it is something that you can enjoy for a long time, even until you are 30 maybe."
His reply to that, floored me, quite simply! Goosebumps and throatlumps, floored me, really.
"Uncle Robert, when I'm 30, I'll still have these, and I'll be watching them with my kids!"
Wowza! I shouldn't have expected anything less from Dylan! Then he thanked me, for about the seventh time!
Dylan doesn't know the gift that he gave me, at that moment.
I guess Christmas is like that. The best gifts come through a child's eyes, impossible to wrap!
Merry Christmas, my young little friend!