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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Slip-Slidin' Away On A Sled!

Can you believe that we're already almost halfway through “THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR” this year? My goodness, you know what they say about the holidays! They really do creep up on you!

But yet, here we are on Day #11!

And, today's one of those Whatever Wednesday entries where I randomly select a card from a group of six Clue characters and come up with a topic based from those Clue cards. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, well, here's what each of the character cards mean.

For Miss Scarlet, we make it a Sunday Jukebox kind of day.
For Colonel Mustard, it becomes a Monday Matinee.
For Professor Plum, we change this day to a Thursday Diary.
For Mrs. Peacock, we make it a Friday Night TV Guide entry.
For Mr. Green, we feature the first two weeks of the Saturday Smorgasbord.
For Mrs. White, we feature the last three weeks of the Saturday Smorgasbord.

(The first two weeks of Saturday represent toys and video games. The last three weeks deal with cartoons, comics, books, magazines, and educational shows.)

So, who will be the subject of this week's Whatever Wednesday?

Ah, looks like a Mr. Green kind of day. So this means that I'm going to be talking about a toy, game, or video game.

And, on top of that, I have to try and make it Christmas related. Not an easy task.

I mean, sure, it is easy in the sense that Christmas is all about toys and games.  After all, in most homes around the world, you can find toys and games underneath the Christmas tree every December 25th.  But I don't really feel like doing a blog entry on any of the hottest toys of the year, because to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what any of them are.  I have no children of my own, and my nieces and nephews are at the age where they don't really play with toys these days.  So, as far as current toys go, I'm totally out of the loop.

And, I really don't want to do a blog entry on a video game.  For one, there's not a lot of Christmas themed video games out there in the world.  Heck, I'll tell you right now that my upcoming Saturday blog entry is kind of stretching it in regards to keeping the Christmas theme going for the blog.  Secondly, although video games and video game consoles can usually be found underneath Christmas trees (I know that I certainly received video games as Christmas presents myself), I don't know if I really want to make today's topic on a toy in which you stay inside for hours on end.

No, I think that for today's topic, I'm going to write about an outdoor activity.  One that you can do outdoors...well, provided that you live in an area that receives regular snowfall between the months of December and March.  Actually, this activity could be one that you could do on Christmas Day morning after you've opened your gifts.  It's lots of fun for all ages, and if you can find exactly the right spot to perform this activity, you could have a ride that is almost as thrilling as a roller coaster at Six Flags!

This is a blog all about sledding!  I'll talk about some of the sleds that I used to ride in, some of the materials that I used to slide down hills, and the one place in town which I considered to be one of the best sledding hills ever.

So, how many of you remember your very first sled?  Do you even still have it?  I am sad to say that my first sled did not survive past my childhood.  But, man did I have a lot of good times with that sled.

The sled itself was made entirely of plastic.  If anything, I think my parents picked up the sled on clearance at Woolco right around the time that I was toddler aged.  I wish I could find a picture of it from way back when, but for whatever reason, I do remember it looking somewhat similar to the image below.

All that I remember about it was that it was bright red with yellow handles, and it sailed down hills at a very fast speed! 

(Well, at least it seemed really fast to me when I was a little kid, anyway.)

I tell you, I took that little red sled everywhere I went as a kid.  My sisters and parents would often use the little yellow rope attached to the front of the sled and pull me around our snow-covered backyard of our house...making sure that they didn't make me crash into a tree or a bush in the process.  And on the rare occasion in which we went out to a park to slide down the snow covered hills in the area, I could count on that little red sled to take me on the ride of my life!

The only thing about using a sled over and over again for five consecutive winter seasons was that over time, the sled would become more and more damaged, and I would say that over time, the sled started to wear away.  The first sign of decay was the fact that the sled began to change colour.  Initially, the sled was a bright red colour.  Five years later, it had faded into a sickly shade of Pepto-Bismol pink.  And then the cracks started to form all along the bottom of the sled, and the handles fell off, and the rope frayed away to nothing.  By the time I was six or seven years old, the sled had broken in half, and it was rendered absolutely useless.

I was devastated and heartbroken.  That sled was a huge part of my childhood, and it was suddenly broken and useless.  I wanted my parents to replace it with one exactly like it, but given that it was an item on clearance at Woolco and this was at a time before eBay and Kijiji even existed, those dreams were dashed rather quickly.

I mean, sure, I had loads of sleds that followed the little red one, but they just weren't the same.  I had one of those toboggan style sleds that were built kind of similar to the one featured in the movie "Citizen Kane", but to be perfectly honest I never really liked those kinds of sleds.  There was something about the way they were built that made them absolutely useless on hills (but were fantastic on flat plains of snow), and as far as I was concerned, if you couldn't go down a hill very fast, it wasn't worth playing on.

Ironically enough, even though I didn't use that toboggan that much, I was so angry with my parents when they gave it away to my cousins who promptly broke it weeks after getting it.  Looking back on it, I wish that they had asked me for my permission before giving it away because there's a part of me that still wishes I had it, even though I am way too big for it now.  Oh, well.  

As I grew older, I decided that sleds were a little bit too childish for me (keep in mind that I was only eleven or twelve at the time), and I decided that I would use other methods of transportation to get down a big snow-covered hill. 

Enter the "Snow Saucer/Crazy Carpet" era.

Now, I never really did have much use for Snow Saucers.  To be honest with you, I was a husky kid and I couldn't really fit properly on them.

I mean, look at the way they were designed.  Unless you were four feet tall and weighed less than eighty pounds, they were absolutely useless.  But for those kids who met the height and weight requirements (or lied to themselves and told themselves that they were), they were a really ingenious way to slide down any hill.  Of course, you also had to make sure that you held on for dear life because if you hit a sharp curve or a sudden bump, you would literally go flying off the sled.

I was more of a Crazy Carpet kind of person.  I don't know if they are still made or not, but mine sort of looked like the pictures up above.  The only difference was that I entered the double digits in age in the early 1990s, which was right around the time that neon colours first started to become popular.

(Mine was neon orange, by the way.)

Anyway, Crazy Carpets were a whole lot of fun.  You could lie on them face down as you slid down the hill, you could peel them up and ride them like a sled, or if you were really feeling adventurous, you could attach several of them together with string and make a Crazy Carpet train!  And, unlike Snow Saucers, I found them easier to control.  Mind you, once you got to the bottom of the hill, you fell off anyway, but at least you didn't have to worry about falling off while you were midway down the descent.

And, in town, there was only one place which was deemed worthy enough to toboggan down.  It's a place called Laurier Hill (named after the street that the hill happens to be located on), a hill with very few trees and a lot of open plains.  Every winter, we would go to that hill and slide down it to our heart's content.  I even remember going on a field trip to the hill when I was in seventh grade and being amazed that I never got injured once on the hill!  Of course, my sock ended up getting completely soaked because on one descent, I ended up losing my boot!  Luckily, it was on one of the last runs of the day, so I didn't get frostbite that day!  And the hot chocolate that we were given afterwards certainly helped.

So, those are some of the memories I have sledding.  For those of you living in Canada and the Upper U.S., you likely have experienced some of these memories and more.  For those of you who live in the Lower U.S...well, I suppose you could try tobogganing down a sand dune.  Just make sure you wear goggles.  Nobody likes sand in their eyes.

(That was a joke, by the way.)

And, do stay tuned into the advent calendar.  Tomorrow on Day #12, everybody's Christmas tree has a story to tell.  In tomorrow's video blog, I share the stories revolving around our family Christmas Tree.  

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