Like millions of Americans this week with a hope and a dream, I bought some lottery tickets, hoping to win the near-record jackpot and become an instant gazillionaire. Like millions of Americans, I was disappointed but not surprised that my numbers did not come up, and I’d have to put that particular dream on hold for this round and more than likely, this lifetime.
I never win anything. Actually, I did win the 50-50 once at Will’s Wildcats football game years ago. My winnings came to exactly 34 dollars, which pretty much went back to the concession stand.
The good news is that if you are not struck by lightning in a positive way, the converse is that you are probably not going to be struck by lightning in a negative way. The chances of actually being struck by electricity from the sky are very, very small, just as the chances of losing your home in a hurricane or being diagnosed with a terminal disease are small as well.
But as we know, people do get sick, people do suffer many losses in catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy, and yes, people do win the lottery. That’s why, despite the odds stacked against us, many of us who do not buy lottery tickets at most other times do fork out some bucks when the jackpot climbs to dizzying heights. You can’t win if you don’t play, as they say, and wouldn’t it be terrible if your lucky numbers won without you? I’ve tried Quick Pick and I’ve tried my kids’ birthdays. Sigh. Nothing to date.
Most of my hopes and dreams have very little to do with money and have everything to do with those priceless concepts that you will never find in any store — health, happiness, and time. I would give anything to turn back the clock for my parents and Bill’s (and everyone else’s aging parents) and give them more years of health and mobility.
I would give millions of dollars to spend a little more time with my grandmother, the only one of my grandparents I ever knew. I would rent a wheelchair and whiz around with her all over town and at the mall. It became so hard for her to walk in her later years, and it did not cross my mind to rent or borrow a wheelchair for her. We would eat lunch every day, and I would buy her Big Macs at McDonald’s and original recipe chicken at KFC. I guess you can guess where I get my taste in guilty pleasures. I would take her to see the Broadway shows she never got to see, and I would certainly take her on a cruise to somewhere far away and warm.
I would give up mountains of money to erase the lines of disappointment in the faces of my mother and father and replace them with joyful laugh lines and a twinkle in their eyes. I would buy them a ticket around the world and a bottomless bottle of water from the fountain of youth so they could see every wonder 10 times over if they wished. I want a chance to redeem lost opportunities and squandered goodwill.
There are the huge concepts that don’t come with any price tag, and I would try to conquer them all — achieve world peace, end hunger in every corner of the globe, unite people and make them understand that they are more alike than they are different.
In our own little corner of the world, right here in West Windsor and Plainsboro, I would use any millions I would win from the lottery to establish a badly needed community center. If not at our house, I usually stand in the aisles of SuperFresh or McCaffrey’s to catch up with my friends and their kids. In Boulder, Colorado, they have an amazing family recreation center that is open year-round. It has a waterpark and gym, and plenty of room to dance, move about, chat, and bond. It is one of the most impressive community gathering places I have ever seen, and I would bring one just like it to our town.
I would build a community training center to teach our kids skills outside the ones they learn in a classroom. Many of our kids take all sorts of lessons and participate in enrichment programs, but even in our relatively affluent district, there are those who are left out because their parents are busy paying for life’s necessities, and there’s nothing left over.
I guess it’s ironic that there are so many things I would want to do with millions of dollars in lottery winnings, but with Christmas just around the corner, I can’t think of a single thing that money can buy for me. Sure, there is that huge sapphire Bill owes me when our ship comes in or we finish educating our children, whichever comes first. I guess eventually I will have to replace my rusty trusty minivan, and we do need a roofer to check the shingles that Sandy blew off. But I have too much stuff and not enough inner peace.
I am running into the same problem as I try to compile my shopping list for the kids. Make sure they have lots of things to open, Bill always intones, but once again, they have everything they need, and if they don’t, it gets purchased right when they do need it.
So can I wrap up kindness and caring and time and conscience and health, love, and peace with a big red bow? Maybe spend Christmas morning doing something better for the world than opening up boxes of more things we don’t need? Now that the turkey is eaten and the Christmas tree trimmed, that’s my goal for this holiday season.