HANNAH’S CHRISTMAS WISH
Grand Paw Bill
A special Christmas Story written especially for Hannah Banana by Grand Paw Bill from Seattle, Washington and read by Mom Deisha on Christmas Eve 2005, at Metropolis, Illinois (the real home of Superman).
This was a very special Christmas at the Gilbert’s House this year. You see, little Miss Hannah Banana was starting to grow up so fast her Mom and Dad couldn’t keep up with the measuring stick. And Hannah was going to take Santa Claus very seriously this year. Serious as serious could be. Yes siree you see!
She wasn’t going to ask for normal presents like toys, dolls and clothes. No, this year she was going for the POT of GOLD at the end of the rainbow. This little kid was finally getting in touch with her dreams and her special feeling of greatness deep inside. All that learning in school and church was stirring her up in a good and big way.
Her Mom Deisha, knew something different was going on this year. Hannah wasn’t her normal excitable and Sunday ornery self around Christmas time. Oh my, but such a sweet little girl could be so un-sweet at times, but… She was different lately and everybody could tell. She also just ignored everybody’s questions because she wasn’t quite sure what was going on herself. Can’t ‘splain something ya don’t understand.
Hannah’s Mom and Dad tried and tried to get her to write out a Christmas list to either e-mail Santa, send him a snail mail letter, post it on the refrigerator or take it to him personally when he visited the Mall in Paducah from his house at the North Pole. For those who don’t know where Paducah Kentucky is, it is about half way between Monkey’s Eye Brow and Possum Trot (no kidding!). This is where Southern cook’n is at its best and Hannah’s Great Grand Maw Orene sure could fix Southern fried chicken and all the fix’ns better than anyone, even the very famous Colonel Sanders of KFC!
Hannah kept resisting about not making a decision with her approach to Santa, not knowing what to do. She was unsure. And time was running out quickly. In fact it was now Christmas Eve morning. No more time. Something had to be done (drum roll).
Hannah suddenly felt courageously brave and so she asked her Mom and Dad to take her to see Santa. She would just carry on a normal conversation with Mr. Claus and see what came up. Maybe he could help her see what it was that she wanted most this Christmas. And Santa was usually good at reading between the lines and even reading kid’s little minds. Santa was much more than just a jolly fat old St. Nick.
She put on her very favorite Christmas dress—a green velvet dress with a dark red bow at the top, red stockings, a special Santa pin, and a pretty gold bow in her long curly blonde hair. She even had cute little blue undies on to match her dreamy blue eyes. Of course nobody could see them! She was so photogenic that her Mom couldn’t resist getting pictures taken all the time. And this would be a very special occasion that her Dad Stanley better capture with his trusty digital camera. Then he could e-mail her pictures all over to their many friends and family members here there and everywhere.
So off the Gilberts went to the famous Paducah Mall. Traffic was horrible because everybody waited until the last minute in the South to do their Christmas shopping. Plus it had started to snow, making the normally short trip extra slow going. Tediously slow, even for Dad Stanley’s ultra patience.
And of course when they got to the Mall the parking lot was full as full can be. But as usual, her Dad, who had an unusual gift for finding close-up parking spaces, did it again. There was a spot for their white 4 X 4 right next to the entrance near where Santa was. Hannah was happy that she could go right in without waiting too long. “Yeah Dad,” said Hannah gleefully.
However, as luck would have it when the Gilberts got inside, there was a line ten miles long. Gosh it would take two hours to get to Santa’s lap. “Oh well”, said Hannah, “Dad can wait here and Mom and me can go shopping for awhile. Mom liked that idea, as it was “retail therapy” for her, but Dad would have posed a slightly different plan. Anyway, Dad stayed and Mom and Hannah went walking around the stores. Time passed quickly because Mom loved to shop until she would drop. But running out of both time and money, though, they thought they better get back to see how far up the ten mile line Dad had gotten.
They got back just in time. Hannah was next. She was getting a little nervous, but Mom told her to relax and be herself. This wasn’t her first time to sit on Santa’s lap, but then again this time was kind of special and all the Gilberts knew that somehow. The little boy before her didn’t take long at all. He was either too nervous and forgot most of his list, got terribly tongue-tied, or he just wanted a new 65-inch plasma screen TV to watch Madagascar and Star Wars on. At any rate he was only a few seconds and now it was Hannah’s turn.
Hannah slowly walked up and asked Santa if she could sit on his lap and tell him what she wanted for Christmas. She was a very polite little girl. Santa quickly replied, “Why of course, I would love that!” It was a rather big lap since he had eaten a couple hundred turkeys, a few tons of mashed potatoes and stuffing, and several dozen pumpkin pies over Thanksgiving to get ready for his Christmas trip from the North Pole. He was normally a big fellow, but Hannah sensed he was a bit bigger than usual this year. Maybe all those pumpkin pies had a few cans of whipped cream on them or maybe even topped with several gallons of vanilla ice cream. Something for sure was adding the extra pounds.
“Well,” said Santa, “don’t you look especially pretty, young lady.” “Thank you Santa,” said Hannah, glad she had dressed up. “So what do you want from Santa this year? Hannah,” as he had remembered her name from last year. Hannah was unforgettable to anyone. She began, “Well Santa that is the problem, I am not sure.” “Hmmm,” replied Santa. “Maybe this year it’s not about things and normal presents like toys, clothes and dolls,” he suggested. It was like he could read her mind. Santa knew little Hannah was struggling for words, so he jumped in and helped out.
Santa then said, “I think Hannah is beginning to grow up this year. I suspect you want some much bigger things this Christmas—like what all adults search for. I think you are looking for the Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.” “Yes,” said Hannah, surprised that Santa helped her know exactly what was going on.
“But now all the hard work begins for you Hannah, in trying to get a clear idea what exactly this “pot of gold” is all about. Maybe I can help a little. Adults like your Mom and Dad, all want the same thing, but somehow they stop believing in me. And worst of all, they don’t even know what their pot of gold looks like. They could run smack dab into it and not see it! And then they wonder what is wrong!”
Santa offered Hannah an important clue…”We need to see exactly what this pot of gold is all about for you. It has your name on it. Let me tell you this, I just happen to know your Grand Paw Bill up there in Seattle Washington. He is a very good friend of mine as a matter of fact. He has visited me at the North Pole several times. Your Grand Paw Bill has spent a life time studying this pot of gold thing and knows quite a bit about it. He calls it becoming your Signature Self and says it is made up of three important things:
3. Peace and Contentment.
“Those things are hard to understand and talk about, but let me define them for you in the simplest terms that I can, so you get a clearer idea of what these things are. It is always a good idea to define things that are important because you often learn what these things really are, by doing so. We use a lot of words that we have forgotten what they really mean and sometimes that keeps is from enjoying the experience these words stand for.” After all does the word “love” mean the same thing to everyone? Heck no! But back to the story and three important words.
“First of all, happiness is a feeling you get as a result of doing several things like being successful, helping other people, learning as much as you can, being creative, loving life, worshiping God and not doing wrong things and not telling fibs. You feel happy when you do the right things, but life will say ‘Balderdash’ to your conscience, and maybe your nose will itch too, when you wander off the straight and narrow path.”
Next, success is just doing the very best you can do at whatever you are doing right now—like being a good daughter for your parents and an ‘A’ student in school, singing your best at church and listening carefully to what the preacher is preaching, being polite and nice to your friends or just having as much fun as you can playing the best you can inside the house or outside in your yard.
Finally, peace & contentment are what you get when you do all these things, then accept both the good and bad times that happen in your life and help others to see the way to their own pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. By the way Dolly Parton says “It takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow” and that is a really big clue about getting peace and contentment, which aren’t easy to get.”
“Wowey,” though little Hannah, “I had no idea that these are the things I wanted. “Well,” said Santa in his usual mindful response, “It may not be that easy.” “You see,” Santa continued, “Your mind thinks you want certain things to be happy, peaceful and content, and that you have to do certain things to be successful. Unfortunately that just isn’t so, but a lot of people waste a lot of time thinking so.
They continually chase after this or that, say yes or no, and look up and down and all around, but always end up empty-handed, for some reason or the other.” Even Hannah thought it was curious why adults couldn’t just see things the way they are and do things the way they should be done. That was just good old common sense that all kids had naturally. Santa read her mind on that one and winked, but he also knew she needed a bit more explanation on the matter, at least the “why” of it.
“The trouble is,” he carefully explained, “that your mind is only one-third of you. You also have a heart and a soul-spirit.” Santa was on a roll here, so he had more to tell Hannah, “To make a long story short, your mind learns lots of things in order to soften up your heart feelings, so that you finally start listening to your soul-spirit, which is God’s gift to us all to help guide us through life in the search for our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” It is a very soft whisper, that you have to listen for very carefully, or you can easily miss it.
At this point Santa realized he was being a bit abstract and that Hannah probably needed some stuff she could see, hear, touch and smell.
So, Santa shifted mental gears and decided to share Grand Paw Bills clues about all this stuff that he had been saving just for Hannah, to make a little more sense to her. “Hannah Banana,” Santa started, “Here are the best tips in the whole world about how to get your pot of gold. I am just going to give them to you exactly the way they were given to me. Your Grand Paw Bill brought them up to the North Pole a few years ago, when he was helping our Christmas Company be better. It sure helped all my elves do better work and Mrs. Claus too!” Major attitude change!
“Here are a dozen great ideas we have all used to learn, grow and improve and find our own pot of gold. Try any of these things and they will surely help you!”
1. It is important to know what special gift God gave you so that you can practice it and be good at using it to be happy and successful in finding your pot of gold and helping others do that too. It may not be easy finding out what this gift is, but you can find out quicker by thinking about what you like to do most, what you have most fun doing, what you are best at doing, and what other people praise you most for. Then of course you can always ask other people as they may be able to see it easier than you can. Know yourself well and you will know everything else too because everything out here is inside you.
2. Don’t waste too much time trying to cure, fix and get rid of all your failures, mistakes, problems and shortcomings. It is better to work to improve your talents and strengths. Don’t try too hard to overpower or control the parts of yourself that you don’t like or others probably don’t like either—they are a part of you that you just have to accept and when you do that, they don’t have that much control over you. ‘Acceptance’ is more powerful than most people think. It is not doing nothing, but something to change the situation for the better. Remember how rainbows are made. And whatever you do Hannah, don’t ever grow out of your “beginner’s mind.” Getting too smart as an adult will keep you from seeing the simple truths like you do right now.
3. Now everybody can’t help but notice one special gift that God gave you in the way of being a very pretty girl. That will give you a large head start. And if you add two things to that, you will always be the leader of the pack. These two things for you to work on are your likeability and your smartness. Likeability is mainly about being positive, honest, polite, funny, sensitive to others, a good listener, humble (not bragging) and open-minded. Being smart is using any of your many mental skills to get you from where you are to where you want to be—mainly your practical common sense, intuition, creativity, emotional and social intelligence and critical thinking (Ask your Grand Paw Bill to send you all the good information he has about these important aspects of “intelligence” that go way past the IQ things schools talk about, when you are ready).
4. You will probably achieve great things in life because of your God-given gifts and talents. But never forget where these things come from—God and your parent’s love. So be thankful and use your abilities to help others who may not be as blessed as you are. Give a lot away and you will get much in return. Also, try not to brag too much, as people will like, respect and follow you more if you just do good because you like to, and not for what it brings you. Then you will notice your pot of gold will keep growing without even trying.
5. To get your Pot of Gold, you have to start with huge dreams and an even bigger imagination. And you can’t just stop by having those big dreams and using that wild imagination. You have to set goals for yourself and do something to translate your dreams and wishes into reality—by being determined to succeed, never ever quitting, working harder, and being more clever and smart than everybody else. To be able to do this you have to apply the “stick” theory of problem-solving. This stick theory is working both ends of the stick and the middle to, to dissolve a problem. One end means getting a clear picture of what the problem really is, the middle means doing something to make it better, and the other end means be open to what happens from doing these first two things. While reading this last part, Mom Deisha scratched her head on this idea, wondering what the heck her dad, Grand Paw Bill, was talking about. “Oh well he must be off in space travel somewhere,” she thought silently.
6. Try not to compete against other kids. School encourages you to do that, but you try especially hard to just compete against making your own better self best in everything you try. Become your best signature self and find your very own pot of gold. When you worry too much about other kids, you aren’t able to do your best. And when you want others to change into their best behavior before you do, you will be waiting for a very long time. They just won’t do it! So focus on you.
7. Never stop learning how to talk clearly and write well. These abilities are where most other people fail in life. Words are very important as they can create their own realities (the stuff you see, hear and know). Stop and ask how your Mom and Dad define happiness and success. These definitions will influence how much or how little of these things you will have. (This may take a while to understand, but it is more important than you can imagine and then some).
8. Learn to laugh a lot and don’t take life too seriously. God meant things to be funny. Just go to the zoo every once in awhile and look around at all the really weird, funny, and strange-looking animals God made—the extra-long-necked giraffes, clumsily slow-moving hippopotamuses, sleepy koala Bears (which aren’t even bears!), huge leathery tortoises carrying around their shell “house,” pink flamingos standing on one leg, springy kangaroos going boing-boing everywhere with little ‘Joey’s’ in their pouches, sea lions with whiskers, black and white singing whales, playful monkeys, wombats that look like giant hairy thumbs, and gorillas pounding their chests. Of course these animals are probably looking at us and thinking we are the funny ones, especially when we don’t laugh.
9. Your pot of gold can increase greatly by doing two things you may not think about doing—reading lots of good books and hanging out with smart, successful friends. Try to avoid the negative, angry kids (those are the noogalucahs and farfangers that serve the sole purpose of showing the rest of us how not to be), because you probably won’t be able to help them and they will just bring you down when you want to be going up. If they get in your way, just ignore them, that is the kindest thing you can do. And you can always help more deserving people just by being your best signature self and showing it to them.
10. Keep balanced. This means not doing any one thing too much. Don’t play too much or work too little, talk and not listen, think of yourself and not others, eat too much and not exercise enough, be too private and not social enough, or take before giving. Think of yourself in the middle of the see-saw. That way you can go to either side when you want to. The more out of balance you allow yourself to wander, the harder it is to get back to the center where you really need to be in order to see your pot of gold. Otherwise it gets out of focus and you don’t want that to happen. But if by chance you do get lost, don’t be shy about asking for help getting un-lost.
11. Let go and trust life when you are an adult, just like you do now as a kid. And don’t grow up thinking you can control everything, just because you may be highly successful at it. God and life are in control of all of us and the smartest thing we can do is trust in God and life to take us where we are supposed to go. Fighting that destiny isn’t smart. But if you must, own your decision to do so and enjoy the detour at least.
12. When things don’t go your way, slow down and smell the roses. Wherever you are right now, you are supposed to be there because it will take you to where you need to be to get to where you want to be. In other words, just keep being the way you are right now; that is one part of you that doesn’t need to “grow up.” You are always exactly where God wants you to be, even when it doesn’t feel good. You just have to believe that God knows better, which He certainly does. No matter how bad you feel when something bad happens, you will feel better later. And everybody will have their eyes on little Hannah when something bad happens, just to see how she handles it. Pass this important test and your pot of gold will start to appear before your very eyes!
Santa realized that this was all a bit much for such a cute little kid as Hannah Banana to take in all at once. So he just hugged her and said with Santa Claus authority and certainty that her life would turn out just fine and that everything would be just hunky dory for little Hannah Banana. It was meant to be. All she had to do was have fun growing into the big pot of gold God had in mind for her. It wouldn’t be hard for her to find.
Then Hannah suddenly awoke and realized that she had been dreaming on Christmas Eve and now it was Christmas day. In fact it was 5:59 a.m. and time to run downstairs and see what Santa had brought her. Her mom and dad were probably still sleeping, having stayed up watching Christmas videos from Blockbuster, but that was okay. Now she knew just how excited she was to find out if Santa understood what she really wanted this year. She had a funny feeling that he surely did. In fact, she was sure and that is what made her so excited and happy. Wow, her dream seemed so real.
Right out in front of all her normal presents of fabulously wrapped toys, dolls and clothes with gold, silver, and blue bows, was the green and red envelope with a candy cane stamp, promised by Santa. She was mysteriously drawn to it because she just felt something special about it. She slowly opened the envelop and there was a letter from Santa inside. It read:
The dream you had last night was very real. We really did have a long conversation on my large lap at the Paducah Mall. By the ‘weigh,’ I am going on the Atkins Diet after Christmas. Everything I told you last night is real—to make it come true and find your pot of gold all you have to do is two things:
P.S. Would you do a huge favor for me and Grand Paw Bill? You can help your Aunt Abby to teach you these things whenever you two get together. We would both really appreciate your effort to do this. And we just know you will be successful! Your pot of gold will be very BIG. It will be even bigger than one of the five Golden Tickets to Willie Wonka”s Chocolate Factory or a pass on the Polar Express! Go Hannah!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Ho, Ho, Ho, Fe, Fi, Fo!
P.S.S. I really liked the hot chocolate and key lime cheese cake you left for me by the fireplace and also the green apples for Rudolf. Next year can we work on some pumpkin pie with whip cream? (Don’t worry about the cows getting whipped for it, it doesn’t hurt them!) And I may need some decaf coffee by then too, with a spoonful of hazelnut creamer. And maybe even a pound or so of some praline fudge to take back to Mrs. Clause. Do you think you can arrange these goodies?
By the way, say hello to your Grand Paw Bill and Brother Jack at your church. They are very good friends of mine. Thanks Hannah! See you next year. Never stop believing and imagining.
At the end of the story, Hannah only had one question, but her Grand Paw Bill, being very aware, had anticipated the question. The question was: “When my head, heart and soul all say something different, which one should I listen to?” Grand Paw Bill’s thoughtful answer was: “Listen to them all, but cherish the few moments when they all agree.”
And alternative answer given by Mom Deisha was, “Hannah, remember the movie Hitch, with Will Smith in it? He said something worth thinking about. What he said was, ‘It’s not the amount of breaths you take in life that count most, but the amount of moments that take your breath away.’”
That prompted Dad Stanley to get a little ‘filosofical,’ something he didn’t often do. His contribution to this all was, “Hannah, it is not the view at the top of the mountain that counts most, but the fun you had climbing up the mountain.” Now little Miss Hannah understood all about having fun. It was time to have some! It was Christmas!