Every Christmas my husband and I watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate. It’s my favorite holiday tradition of all time. The first time we did this we weren’t setting out to create a tradition, it just happened. Nick isn’t super emotive, but he laughed out loud at the hot chocolate scene where the waiters dance and sing and serve hot cocoa to the children on the train. The tradition was born from a good laugh and a healthy dose of holiday magic. Joy!
This past holiday season we watched The Polar Express as always, and as the little boy pauses before chasing the train as it begins to pull away from him I shouted, “Come on kid! What are you doing? GET ON THE TRAIN!!!”
Nick chuckled and turned towards me. “Would you get on the train?”, he asked. His tone made it clear that he did not believe for one second that I would get on that train. And he’s right. I wouldn’t.
I know Nick didn’t mean for his question to stir me into internal conflict, but it did. If a mysterious, magical Christmas train showed up at my door promising me adventure and intrigue I don’t think I’d get on. I just don’t take risks like that. I couldn’t get on the train. I wouldn’t be prepared if it just showed up last minute like that. I wouldn’t have my things - a sweater, a book, my bag. What if someone noticed I was gone and was worried? What about all the sleep I would miss out on? How long would this take? What if I weren’t back in time to accomplish the items on my to do list?
Clearly I am not a chill enough person to get on the train.
Of course I am not actually worried about what I would do if the polar express showed up outside my door. I don’t expect that to happen. But it’s a great metaphor for unexpected opportunity. And my realization that I would be too uptight to take a chance and get on that train was sobering. What am I missing out on because of my insistence on planning and my inclination to turn my nose up at spontaneity? And worse, am I even able to have fun doing something that’s unexpected and unknown?
One of my goals for this year is to be more adventurous. I know that sounds too vague and easy to be a goal, but for me it’s important. It means I’ll have to say yes more - yes to going to the park to watch the sunset even though the dishes aren’t done, yes to meeting friends for a drink even though it’s 10PM and I’ve already been in bed for an hour, yes to signing up for that lunch lecture even though I won’t know anyone in the room and will feel out of place, yes to breaking a rule every now and again.
This doesn’t sound hard - in fact to most it sounds fun - but for me this will take focus and a lot of being uncomfortable. I’m realistic about this goal. By this time next year I won’t be a rebel, and no one will use the words “spontaneous” or “carefree” to describe my nature. But I do hope that next Christmas, as I cheer for the little boy as he jumps unto the Polar Express to have the adventure of a lifetime, I’ll be able to say, “Yes. I would get on the train.”