After the crackers had cracked there was great commotion as everyone looked for their crown, their prize and their joke. Once the paper crowns were in place, the prizes found and dismissed, it was time for the jokes. These crackers had jokes that led to groans, not laughter, but we went through the lot of them.
"What's great and has a trunk?"
Well a mouse going on vacation, is the obvious answer.
When Ruby got to her joke she read out, "Why did the boy take a ruler to bed with him at night?"
Now, and be ye proud of all of us adults, we restrained ourselves, and restraint it took, from making any kind of crude joke. I just choked out, "I don't know, why did the boy take a ruler to bed with him at night?"
Now Sadie, Ruby's younger sister, just wouldn't let us go on without her guessing the answer. She would throw guesses into the air like confetti. This time she was silent for a second and then her eyes lit up, she had an answer.
"So he could measure how far away he was from his dreams."
I looked at her for a second, her eyes wide, sitting with anticipation to see if her answer was right, and wondered how this 9 year old girl came to an answer so deep and so wise.
"Wrong! It's so he could find out how long he slept."
Before we moved on I said, "Hold up a second." I turned to Sadie and said, "You answer was a really poetic answer Sadie, it was way better than then answer that was on the paper, I loved what you said."
"What did I say again?" she asked.
I repeated her answer. She looked both pleased and a bit embarrassed by the focus now being on her and an answer that was declared wrong.
"Sometimes wrong answers are more important than right answers," I explained.
"Tell my teacher that," she said and laughed.
The evening went on but her answer stayed with me, as these things do. I marveled how creativity, and Sadie is highly creative, can lead to different and important ways to tackle a problem. She took a mundane joke and turned it into a profound statement.
Wouldn't we all like to be able to measure, give a concrete number, to our progress towards our dreams? Isn't it tough not really knowing if you are making progress or treading water? Are we actively becoming or are we passively satisfied with history being taken care of by itself?
It's New Year's Day, I hope when you measure where you are today against where you were last year, you see your dreams a little closer, your hopes a little brighter, your aspirations a little clearer. It's a journey this life, so, like Sadie suggests, bring a ruler.