The general concept of Family Day, first held in Alberta 25 years ago, is to get families off their derrières and outside doing something active.
Sound like fun?
Imagine teens becoming unplugged from whatever electronic device they happen to be using at the time, looking each other in the eye and communicating verbally!
Sound like a plan?
And for the privileged few, Family Day turned out just like it was supposed to.
It was cool to see grandpas and grandmas and babies in strollers and moms and dads just being together and enjoying the day named just for them.
Family Day, a February red-letter day, can be chilly and even though Alberta is mostly chilly, except for a brief interlude we call summer, participation in any outdoor event can be a freezing-type experience.
No doubt, the brave and hardy souls who participated in the Polar Bear Dip in Sylvan Lake take this concept to the extreme, flinging their bodies into the icy, unrelenting waters of Sylvan Lake with reckless abandon.
I, personally, have never been a polar dipper, but my camera and I have been close enough to the action to experience the icy splash resulting from the jumpers leaping into unknown waters on more than one occasion.
For me, Family Day this year was proof that the lines penned by the famous Scottish poet, Robbie Burns when he wrote, “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!” are all too true.
I began the three-day weekend with great anticipation and excitement befitting a working girl who had been given some extra time off. And the weekend started off exceeding my expectations as friends decided to blow up all these balloons, invite a few other friends over, put on a scrumptious feast and call it a party. A birthday party! For me!
I was, of course, humbled and proud, and even when I wore the birthday girl crown and they snapped pictures of me, I tried my best to achieve the demure, yet proud, look. I managed to look only ridiculous, but no one seemed to care, so it was all good.
I envisioned Family Day as a special day, with no particular plans, except to bask in the warmth of my circle of family and friends and be all happy.
Never in my plans did I envision sitting with my daughter in her living room, while she propped her poor arm completely encased in a huge white cast on the back of a chair and we tried to decide if her fingers were turning blue from lack of circulation or bruising.
Skating! She broke her wrist in several places skating.
I cringe when she tells me the story of how she was skating backwards and hit a small patch of snow and over she went, putting her hand out to stop the fall.
I can almost hear the bones snap and feel the pain!
Skating is so much fun!
But it just takes one little moment in time and it is no longer fun.
I know that, too.
It was years ago, but I can still remember the instant bone crushing pain and the hard, unforgiving ice. And what was I doing? Skating! Just like my daughter!
Ouch! Emergency rooms! Casts! Painkillers!
That’s not supposed to happen on Family Day or any other day, for that matter!
Yes, Robbie Burns, the lines you penned are true.
So very true!
Treena Mielke is editor of the Rimbey Review, a sister publication of the Sylvan Lake News.