Since childhood I’ve experienced an onslaught of marketing messages that focus on a single, classic, opening to a sentence. “All I want for Christmas…” I suspect you’ve experienced something similar.
At this slightly later stage of life (I tend to doubt any adolescents are reading this page) it might be time to revisit that idea. Not to throw it out entirely, just to reconsider it.
To revise the words that follow and the sentiment they express.
Christmas, for many of us, is the highlight of our year. Coming so near the end of the calendar year it makes good sense that it would be.
Just as it’s hard to accurately label the trial of the century in the first two decades of that time period, it’s difficult to articulate the hopes and dreams of an entire year in the first few months following New Year’s Eve.
But at the end of the year, it’s relatively easy to start doubling down on our annual bucket list. To start thinking of accumulating all the value we’d hoped to earn over the course of the year.
We do that in this last few weeks of the year when time is running out, the air is filled with song, and the table is heaped up with delectable treats.
Why not? Let’s dream big. What do I really want?
But then, reality sets in. As we all know at this stage of life, anything worth doing will be at least somewhat difficult. So let’s take a look at our Christmas wish list and — maybe more importantly — what that list of wants and desires says about us and our commitment to ourselves and others.
In the transition from childhood to adulthood most of us stumble upon an idea that resonates in a way we never imagined. We learn this: It is better to give than receive.
Admit it, that was a surprise. Who knew doing something for someone else would often make us feel better than we do when we open a gift-wrapped box with our name on it?
This simple truth comes as a bit of a shock to us after we’ve spent years pouring over the Sears catalog for inspiration as we fill out our Christmas lists.
Lists that might better be thought of as an inventory of our dreams. For that is what those lists were. A wish list of all the things we imagined we’d wake up to find in our possession. Stuff. Loads and loads of stuff. Ever expanding piles of it.
Don’t get me wrong. I like stuff too. I own quite a bit of stuff. Some of it is really cool, too. But in the end it’s just stuff. And stuff is hardly something you can base a life on.
As I get older, hopefully wiser, and undeniably goofier looking, I realize that the most important gifts I’ve ever gotten came in the form of smiles, tears of joy, and gratitude I received from folks I gifted with something they wished for. Those moments far outweigh the tangible gifts I’ve be given over the years.
I mention this because general aviation aficionados have the ability to share something almost magical with legions of their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances — virtually none of whom would ever experience this gift without help from someone, somewhere. Someone who looks remarkably like you.
I refer of course to a visit to the local, general aviation airport. The place where airliners don’t go.
A large green field where the periphery is dotted with hangars and the odd office space. A peaceful place where quiet is more common than commotion, yet adventure awaits anyone bold enough to climb into a cockpit and trust their weight to the action of invisible air on the wings of their aircraft.
This is where dreams become reality. Where the world is subtly exposed as a three-dimensional expanse of opportunity and wonder.
This is where I present the items on my Christmas wish list. This is where I find my greatest joy by sharing a skill I’ve learned, a body of knowledge I’ve accumulated, and access to an airplane it took me decades to obtain.
My Christmas wish is to gift others with the sense of amazement I’ve found in the hangar and in the sky. To discover their true potential by challenging their perceived limitations through flight.
This is what makes me truly happy.
All I want for Christmas is to make someone else’s life better in 2018. If I can share the magic, light a fire in someone who thought they were too afraid to pursue their dreams, I’ll have a good Christmas that lasts far beyond Dec. 25.
If I can help someone overcome the financial hurdle of learning to fly, alleviating them of even one hour’s economic stress, I’ll have accomplished my goal.
I’ll bet that idea appeals to you, too — at least on some level. Perhaps that’s because like me, you’ve noticed that Santa is an older fella, carrying a few too many pounds, who intends to take to the skies to bring joy to boys and girls the world over. And frankly, other than the traditional red fluffy wardrobe, that pretty much describes you and me, too.
Hmmm, that gives me an idea. Imagine if half a million pilots made the decision to at least temporarily become Santa and gift someone, somewhere, with a day at the airport, an hour in the hangar, and at least one lap around the pattern. Can you imagine what would happen if year after year that happened?
It wouldn’t be long before virtually every man, woman, and child had experienced general aviation personally. Which just might shift their view of the airport in a considerably more positive direction. They might even become regular participants in aviation.
Yeah, that’s what I want for Christmas, a lot more GA enthusiasts. I think I’ll get started on making that happen right now. I hope you will too.
Ho, ho, ho.