My wife, participating in a long-standing family tradition, recently broke her wrist ice skating. Which leads, of course, to the inevitable and understandable question, what kind of long-standing family tradition includes fractures? Aren’t most long-standing family traditions just supposed to include cuts, bruises, root canals or the occasional trip to the emergency room?

You’re probably also wondering what my wife was actually doing ice skating in the first place when she could have been at home watching our oven explode. In fact, my entire family likes to go ice skating at the end of every year during the holidays because it’s a bonding experience, recalls our genealogical origins in Iceland (or maybe it was Latvia?) and also gives family members one last chance to laugh at how I ice skate.

Actually, that’s how I don’t ice skate. What I do is, we get to the rink, I spend an inordinately long time trying to get my feet into the skates and then spend an even longer time trying to lace up my skates. Then I spend a good amount of time complaining about how my feet hurt with my skates laced up too tight and then I get hot chocolate. Then, if I’m lucky, there’s little time left to actually go out on the ice.

When I do, I cling desperately to the side walls, immediately recognizing that ice skating is just like walking on ice, except it’s worse because you’re doing it on skates, which are more cumbersome than feet, and promising myself that next year we’re going to create a new long-standing family holiday tradition of going bowling, where the shoes don’t hurt as much.

Meanwhile, the rest of my family is gliding around, twirling, swirling, pirouetting and actually skating. Mostly, though, they are laughing at me. It’s a bonding experience for them and reminds them of those good old days when they also used to laugh at me for something else.  

Then, on one of her last twirls, my wife laughed so hard when she saw me clinging to a 4-year-old Latvian native that she lost her balance and fell. Thinking quickly, so she could protect her guffaws from the ice and to be able to continue laughing, she braced herself with her hands. One wrist didn’t approve.

That’s how we wound up looking for an urgent care office, on the night before Christmas right after the fall, when no urgent care was open not even the one at the mall.

There was, of course, the option of going to the emergency room on Christmas Eve. But we had already been to the emergency room twice in the last month or so and consequently had no more free passes left even though free shipping was included.

Ultimately, my wife did get the splint and then the cast. And I got one more vote for bowling to become the new long-standing family tradition.