The Mahler's have a New Year's Eve tradition of ice bowling. I am going to wait a minute to let that sink into your brain.
...Isn't that absolutely amazing? See, I knew that you would appreciate it as much as I do. It's a pretty simple idea. First, they shovel off some ice. They usually go on a local river but some recent warm days made the ice there a little too weak for comfort, so they went on a neighbors frozen pond instead. Second, they go out the day before and set up 2 x 4's on the ice to make bowling alleys. Isn't that great? They drill holes in the ice and literally screw the boards in to make the alley, which means that there are no gutters. They even construct a ball return. Yeah, I know. It's like bumper bowling but on ice. It takes all the excitement of curling and combines it with all the drinking that comes with bowling!
The coolest thing about it is that the ice acts as the great equalizer for all the people involved. It doesn't matter if you have a 272 average and can throw the most amazing hook in all of the Wednesday Night Scratch League, that stuff doesn't fly on the ice. So little Sarah Morgan from down down the street has just as good a chance as you do. Isn't that great? Plus, you can't pick up a sweet 7-10 split with mittens on, now can you?
The best part about ice bowling, aside from the fact that it is totally unique and amazingly cool, is that it takes care of every New Year's problem that you could think of. First of all, you don't have to worry about the beer getting cold. Because you are out on the ice and there is tons of snow around. They start a fire in a barrel so everyone has a place to warm their hands and I suppose faces if you wanted to stick your face in there. You could even warm your toes if you were able to do a handstand or maybe if you were really flexible. You don't have to worry about the kids because they can ice bowl if they want. It won't hurt them. So you don't have to spring for a sitter and you can still party with all your grown-up friends. Plus, it is a great way to keep everyone awake until the clock strikes midnight. Seriously, as I write this it's about twenty minutes before five in the afternoon, and it is dark outside. The sun is gone. So that means that there are well over SEVEN HOURS worth of sleep-inducing darkness that you have to navigate just to make it to midnight. Plus, a lot of the adults probably had to work all day long. So everyone is tired. And sitting around a warm living room grazing on the cheese and sausage tray while watching Dick Clark have no idea where he is or what he's doing while a bunch of entertainers that nobody cares about sing lame songs is not really a fantastic way to stay awake. But being outside in the cold drinking peppermint schnapps and throwing heavy objects down the ice? Now that will keep a guy awake no matter if you are 7 or 67.
If you live in a place that is surrounded like lakes, like I do, or if you live in a place that likes to play sports on the ice, like Minnesota, this really is something that you should try. I am going to make an honest, true effort to initiate this tradition amongst me and my friends. I think that it would be fun and it would be wildly popular. So look for that once 2010 is upon us. Enjoy all of your traditions throughout 2009 but don't be afraid to maybe beg, steal or borrow a new tradition to add to the mix. Especially if it is as awesome as ice bowling. So thanks Jim and Terry Mahler, you guys are geniuses!