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The countdown to Christmas Day

Your Life

The countdown to Christmas Day

There was a time when Santa dictated the terms for good behaviour with the promise of great reward. CHARLIE GRIFFITHS explains that Christmas incentives became our first introduction to goal-setting.

Remember sitting on Santa’s knee at the shopping centre, pouring out your heart and begging expectantly for that special possession that only the big guy could deliver?

The cagey old coot made no promises, gave no guarantees and placed strict conditions on your behaviour for the coming weeks –` “don’t fight with your brother”,  “help you mother around the house”, “do your homework”.

“Thanks Santa, I promise I’ll try very hard.” You climb down and run to your mother who was close enough to hear everything, and say, “love you Mummy”. You think to yourself, “that’ll get her on side in case I don’t quite get it all right”.

For the next week, you are a model child, living up to Santa’s hopes and your confidence in seeing the gift you dreamed about under the glittering tree in the lounge room grows.

This is going to be the best Christmas ever!

It seems your brother isn’t so concerned about the deal he made with Santa, and he starts bugging you.

This time it’s worse because you don’t want to blow your deal by retaliating.

In time, enough is enough, so down he goes on his backside. His wailing triggers his mother’s protective instinct, and you are in trouble.

You might have got away with solitary in your bedroom for the day but when your mum spots the “poor boy’s” shiner, the worst possible threat explodes out of her mouth, “I’m telling Santa! No presents for you!”

Oh no! You only bruised his cheek, and she just ripped your heart out. You march yourself off to your room, your weeping putting your brother’s crocodile tears to shame.

Staring through tear-soaked eyes at the happy stars painted on your ceiling you convince yourself that life is over.

Eventually, the salty river subsides to spasmodic sobbing, and you refocus: “How can I fix this?”

You sit up on your bed and look around for a clue, but all you see is dirty clothes and toys strewn across the floor. What a mess!

Then, like your dad’s hand on the back of your head, it hits you.

“What if I tidy my room, and since I’m in such deep trouble, I take my dirty clothes to the laundry? That’s got to impress her. I’d better be quick though, before she puts the call in to the North Pole.”

For the next three weeks you work so hard at keeping your room tidy and every item of worn clothing is deposited in the washing basket next to the Simpson.

You’re pleasantly surprised at the toys you discover that you’re sure your brother had pinched and notice that your socks are coming back in pairs.

Ten days out from Christmas day school ends. You stole the show at the concert, or so your Mum said, but the big bonus was no more homework. That’s one of Santas KPIs ticked off.

The final countdown begins, and you pray that if you keep your nose clean for a few more days Santa will treat you fairly. The big day arrives, and you peak through the lounge room door, terrified that there will be a gap under the tree where your gift was meant to be.

There it is, even grander than you visualised. You pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming and let out a huge teary sigh.

Yes, the best Christmas ever.

When all the gifts are unwrapped and the floor is covered with torn paper, cards and packaging you look at your mum, muster up your cheekiest grin and say sternly, “look at this mess!”

Every good story deserves a moral and this one is simple.

Don’t lose sight of your goals and no matter what or who tries to mess it up, you will always find a way. Just believe.

 Charlie Griffiths is a certified Life Coach and Nuero Linguistic Programming practitioner.  Visit

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