Archive for April, 2011

One Wish

This column first appeared in the April issue of Forsyth Family magazine:

For Sparkle Girl, properly arranged bedclothes are a must. After climbing into bed, she makes sure that all the covers she can reach are properly aligned and perfectly smooth. I straighten any misbehaving covers at the bottom of the bed. Once the blankets are exactly the way she wants them, she’s ready for the equally important steps that follow – a drink of water, good-nights and I-love-you’s from Garnet and me, the music box.

When Sparkle Girl climbed into her unmade bed one night, she was confronted with unruly blankets, some well on their way to the floor. Struggling to tug everything back into place, she said, “If I had one wish, it would be that my bed would always be made.”

The thought of using a magic wish for something so simple and so innocent made me laugh out loud. “You mean to say that you would wish for that rather than lots of money or a trip to China?” (Sparkle Girl wants to travel some day, and China is the first place she talked about wanting to go.) Yes, she said, because she knew it would make her happy every day.

Ever since, I have been thinking about what my “make me happy every day” wish would be. Although you can’t buy true love and happiness, money covers a lot of ground, and I would be sorely tempted to use my wish on that. I’m reluctant to commit to that, though, because, as anyone who has ever read folk tales knows, certain wishes just invite trouble, and wishing for money tops that list.

I once read an article about people who had won big money in the lottery, and, in case after case, the money brought myriad miseries. If it wasn’t the depression that followed squandering it on baubles, it was the unrelenting nuisance of people – from previously unknown relatives to representatives of worthy charities – hoping to get a cut of the lottery winner’s “free” money. (Some of the people who escaped the lottery curse did so by moving somewhere else, living modestly and keeping quiet about the source of their wealth.)

After I told Garnet about Sparkle Girl’s wish, she started making it come true by making Sparkle Girl’s bed each day. (The possibility of doing that never crossed my mind.) The “one wish” idea stuck with Garnet, too, and, as she was straightening up one day – Garnet feels more at ease when the house is in order – she thought that “everything always automatically returning to its place” might make a good wish. She immediately recognized it, though, as one of those wishes that would probably run amuck in some spectacular way.

Doobins harbors no reservations about unforeseen consequences. When I asked him what his one wish would be, he responded instantly that he would want bunches of money. “I wish I was rich,” he said.

As I was getting out of the car one day, it came to me that “I want to feel grateful every day” would make an excellent magic wish. It would ensure that I faced every day from the right perspective. It couldn’t possibly have any negative side effects. (Could it?) And the fringe benefits would be boundless.

I’m still working on incorporating the thought that “oodles of money would make me even more grateful.” I’m sure I’ll have the exact phrasing of the wish worked out by the time the fairy shows up to grant it.