“Santa this Christmas I would like…” was the phase staring back at me from the Christmas trivia game in front of me.
My mind had gone blank.
You already know what I said next, but how did I get there. And why should you be interested?
I’m pretty lucky I have an extended family that has adopted my parents as Grandparents to their son. So their son has three sets of grandparents—lucky him.
Each year sometime before the big day we have been getting together as friends and family for an early Christmas bash. For a lot of people and people at our table, Christmas with the ‘normal’ family isn’t always fun. So we all have a Christmas day like we have all dreamed Christmas day should be.
We share presents, food and laughter. We encourage those who’s year hasn’t got as they had planned. We celebrate the good times for others.
When their son was younger, we created adventures around a character called “Trick Christmas Ted”. It was a big treasure hunt which each year is getting more and more sophisticated games as their son got older. There even was a kidnapping and pursuit to rescue “Ted”.
However, like “Puff the Magic Dragon” their son no longer came and grew out of those escapades. So “Tricky Ted” just slipped into the dusty attic both real and imagined of fond memories.
So what to do this year…..?
Thankfully our host this year Lynn Anne, an ever-creative soul, had purchased a pack of various Christmas themed games. I had run trivia nights for football clubs and schools in a much earlier in life, despite my protestations, was the obvious choice to host these games.
I picked an easy one… Christmas trivia… always fun. With answers as complicated as you’d find in any Christmas cracker. Questions like “in jingle bells, how many horse’s pull Santa’s sleigh?” (PS it’s One – “… a one-horse open sleigh”. You know the song. Try not to sing it.)
You can imagine the scene; it was a little like a Disney movie. One side of the table competing with the other, with enough wine consumed to make everyone happy but still able to drive.
I thought to myself – “Well, that went well, actually a little better than expected.” Of course, now the dilemma was how to keep the atmosphere up? I couldn’t afford to pick another game that was a downer. I had to find an easy game, would keep everyone involved and quickly.
I found one that was partly Chinese whispers and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” sort of all rolled into one. It goes like this – each person has to complete the following sentence – “Santa this Christmas I would like…”
Where it gets tricky is that you must also add on all those who have gone on before. It was going to be very “interesting” for the last person. You go around the room or table in an anti-clockwise direction. (could be the other way too, there is nothing special about anti-clockwise.)
Now in our case, there were 15 people at the table, so the last person was going to have to remember 15 “Santa this Christmas I would like…”, it was going to be fun.
With the wine, making it easy for people to be distracted, I got the game going right away. Going first, I moved quickly without much thought and saw cherries in front of me and said the magic words; “Santa this Christmas I would like – Five Cherries.” It got a slightly bemused reception, but the game was off. The first seven were a mixture of a new car, Lego set, trip to Waterworld, etc., all age-dependent. Then it was Margie’s turn.
Margie is an 80-year-old dynamo, who lives life just like she drives. Fast, furious, and somewhat erratic. If your heart and life feel like they need a jolt – Go for a drive with Marg. You will undoubtedly feel alive – GLAD TO BE ALIVE. Those who know her always offer to drive.
Marg is also very competitive and smart. She rattled off all the other “Santa this Christmas I would like… with speed and efficiency. She looked at me and said “Five Cherries Owen; I would want a lot more than that! – I would like Three Million Dollars.”
What Margie was saying was more than the obvious. There was a significant subtext to her response. “Owen, when life asks what you would want, ask for a lot more.”
Now, I’m also a competitive person. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I already had the idea’s in my head that would later become the article “Don’t Eat Your Seed Wheat”.
I responded –
Yes, Margie, you are right. However, if I eat my cherries save the seeds and plant them, be careful and look after each plant, over time, I could build orchards of cherries and create a cherry empire.
Everyone laughed. I was fortunate that Margie’s wine had slowed her mind enough for her to miss the obvious reply. “With My millions, I could buy the orchards today, and not have to be patient and diligent to create the cherry empire.”
Of course, I did have a reply ready – “Margie, you are right; however, I could use my five cherries to seduce you passionately, and we could build a cherry empire together.” She and the table would have laughed, and her reply would more than likely been – “You could be so lucky, Owen”. I know with only five cherries – I would have to have been a hell of a seducer.
My journey home was over two hours. It gave me time to think.
How often do we find ourselves in situations where we could have asked for more but did not. Maybe we didn’t know how, didn’t know how to think bigger, Or, the opportunities that life has afforded us are less than optimum. Perhaps we have made a poor choice in career, or fate has delt has a hand of accidents, poor health, or a myriad of other disorders. The very country we are born in leaves us equipped with little opportunity.
What do we do? There is always a seed of opportunity in everything. It may not be quite what we want, but it can move our life forward.
Set time aside to take stock to see what possibilities lie within the events of our lives. I was able to leverage a poor choice of cherries into an empire with thought and time.
Jorden Peterson’s fourth principle in “The 12 Rules for Life” – Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today.
Jim Rohn’s, comment – “you may not be able to do all you need to do, but at least find out all that needs to be done”. Is a reminder take action today, on what we can, with a plan to be more able tomorrow.
Lets us be willing to be a student of our own lives and those of others. Learning how to change and grow, there is a world of opportunity always present.
Twenty years ago, I spent a few weeks in the hospital. I was fortunate to be cared for by a young Cambodian nurse. She spoke flawless “Australia”. Not just English but perfect Australian. I assumed that she was a second generation Australian; I was wrong. She had only been here a few years.
I was curious. How did she become so fluent? Hard work was sure – but what did she do?
Our nurse realized when she arrived in Australia, that not speaking English was a significant disadvantage, and communicating with an accent was a hindrance in some areas. She didn’t want anything that she had controls over to stand in her way. She wanted to create a better life for her and her family. She wants to take advantage of everything that Australia had to offer. She did not care where those things were fair or right; she dealt with the circumstances as she found them. She did not complain about the rainy weather – she just put up an umbrella and kept walking.
We all can find ourselves in “poor” circumstances of our own making or just circumstances. We can decide to use them or complain about them. I write this in the middle of the COVID 19 problem. Some people have learnt the piano with the lockdown; others have a degree in Netflix. We all have the same time each day.
Back to our nurse –
She did not have a lot of income. She was young and resourceful. She purchased two second-hand cassette recorders (remember this is 2000). She set them up in her bathroom. Each day she would record some talk radio. She would then look into the mirror play the recording back and repeat it while recording how she spoke—repeating the process, comparing her recording to the original. Day after day, week after week, our nurse took her own language school – learning to talk like a local.
It took hours, but with time she achieved her goal.
I wonder where she is now. I suspect somewhere special if not, no doubt she will be doing what she can to turn the situation to her advantage.
Lets us each be a student of life; Both our own, those around us and who have gone before. Students of those who have lived extraordinary lives and those who have not. Remember, no one gets it all right or knows it all. Be a student, not a follower. Find and create your path – think a little bigger.
Regardless of our choices, turn them into the “gold” of life.
Jim Rohn – “The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle”
Jordon Petersen – “The 12 Rules for Life.”
David Schwartz – ‘The Magic of Thinking Big.’
Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash