The Santa Surprise and the road less travelled
We had planned a small family surprise for Saturday the 12th of December. It wasn’t a big thing but it turned out to be a great thing. The three girls, CeCe, Bianka and Ashley along with Tina their Mum, Helen, Joe, myself and PoPo, my Mother in Law were all going for breakfast with Santa at Ikea. A bit kitsch you might say and to be fair once Joe found out he felt a little disappointed. He was now too big for photos with Santa and putting myself in his shoes, I agreed.
Joe’s cultured guess of the secret was that our surprise was to be a meal on the restaurant tram which at $85 per person for lunch would have been $680 for arguably a much better culinary experience – but there would have been no Santa.
Reluctantly, our dutiful son participated in the line up for photos with Santa and fortunately the more time he spent in the short line, the more he got into the fun of it. He looked around at the proud parents lining up smiling, sharing and experiencing the Santa story with their young children; reality briefly suspended for a joyful fantasy.
We had to let others in front of us as Helen and Tina’s Mum was a little slower in reaching the line. This gave us a chance for some photos with the new Nikon 50mm 1.8 f-stop prime lens I had picked up.
The lens compared to the normal 18-300 lens I use for my flying photographs looked like a peanut on a pumpkin or a raisin on a runway it was so small. But the depth of field this little portrait lens offers is incredible.
After we lined up for the shot with Santa we discovered that it was the first time PoPo (at more than 80 years old) had participated in a Santa photographic shoot… proving that you are never too old to join in and enjoy the moment. Santa even gave up his chair for PoPo as she has a little trouble standing for long periods.
With three generations of our family participating in the shoot and the line made up of people from primarily Asian backgrounds enjoying the experience, it made me feel proud of the harmonious cultural blending that allows us to comfortably enjoy Santa as much as Chinese New Year.
After the photo shoot we lined up for breakfast which was part of the package. Now in case you haven’t guessed, we rate frugality and good manners above a number of other characteristics such as image so for those of the same ilk, I need to share that breakfast for 8 plus a photo with Santa cost 42 dollars… And that included coffees, hot chocolate and soft drink with the meals.
Compare that with the $680 restaurant tram option I think we ended up with more smiles per dollar.
To Joe’s credit he adjusted his expectations, got into the moment and ended up thanking us for the experience… and that is the key point. It is the experience and how much you enjoy it rather than the price tag or perception. It reminded me of the various hotels we have stayed in in our travels. Some our fondest memories (and this includes Joe) are of hotels that were not 4 or 5 star. Mind you we all enjoy 4 and 5 star hotels as well.
In life when someone tantalises us with a secret event, our mind conjures up visions of what the surprise might be. Like journeys through life we can reach points like a fork in the road where a decision must be made or a guess at what the surprise actually is. The difference between real and imagined junctions has one similarity, it is the attitude to the path or choice you take that makes all the difference. Even if the choice is bad, to have the attitude of always finding good in bad is what will and must always lead to a good experience. Why? Because simply that is what you seek.
Joe might see the choice of an IKEA breakfast with Santa as “bad” or the road often travelled compared with the “good” of taking the restaurant car option. Two things happened for us. We will be taking the restaurant tram on my next visit to Melbourne. Joe created that possible path by talking about it. He turned the Santa at IKEA event into a great day by realising that it was the road less travelled for him and his grandmother, leaving them both with an experience they will both remember. Simple but great for the people that were in that event. We are so proud of how mature Joe is.
The last verse of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Enough of the philosophy. I live for the road less travelled and it looks like Joe has embraced this approach as well. I do think this approach to life has benefits for young people and sometimes as parents we need to do different things. Try it – if you still take your child to school, take a different route home when you pick them up. If anything it will invoke some conversation.
Young Ashley is always making the most of her journeys, as Joe and the other girls do as well. As we wandered through IKEA after the event we were considering the next adventure… and wondering if Santa ever took the road less travelled.