Getting that animal was all Sarah could talk about. My starry-eyed five-year-old absolutely knew it would be the very best Christmas ever!
The busy festivities of the season rapidly sped by and before Santa was totally prepared for Christmas Eve, it was time to pick up the little mouse for his early-morning deliveries the next day. The pet store closed at 4:00 pm, and he barely squeezed through the doors before quitting time.
Upon asking for the mouse-on-hold, the pet store owner began to sweat. “It’s been a very crazy day,” he explained. “And things got a little bit disorganized.”
“Disorganized?” Santa questioned.
“Yes,” he continued. “Well, uhhh. You see, in all of the confusion, we sold every single mouse, hamster, and guinea pig in the store! But we do have some rats left.”
“RATS?” Santa replied in shock and amazement.
A sudden sinking feeling crept over Santa as he listened to the pet shop guy give a ten minute oration about how rats actually make much better pets than do mice, hamsters, or guinea pigs.
Thoughts of burning ham left in his oven at home began to blur Santa’s mind and he started to envision little Sarah waking up on Christmas morning, only to see a giant RAT staring back at her through the slits of the clean white cage she had chosen in November!
With no other pet store options from which to choose, Santa reluctantly boxed up two baby “female” rats -- a white one with a pink nose, and a light brown one with a grayish nose. (Two-for-the-price-of-one was the very best deal Santa could strike at such a late hour.)
On Christmas morning, Sarah rushed to see the cute little cuddly mouse she had longed for, planned for, and prepared for over the course of several weeks. I held my breath as she peered carefully into the cage.
“Two wats?” she muttered, not yet “R” proficient. She stared at those rats so intently, realizing they were not at all what she had envisioned seeing there that magical morning. I saw her bite her little lip and put a smile on her determined, sweet face.
“Wow! I got TWO wats everybody! Come and see…”
Now, I’m not very pleased about my laid-back planning approach to Christmas that season, nor of the trust I placed in the pet shop owner’s guarantee of raising two female rodents (these rats had several babies - more than once) but I am sort of amazed (and especially pleased) that Sarah was able to just roll with her reality being much less exciting than her expectation had been.
As ambitious, starry-eyed grown women, we might occasionally feel like we’re staring into the cages of our own lives, only to see something MUCH DIFFERENT than we ever planned, hoped, or prepared to see waiting there for us. But like my Sarah, we each have a choice to make when we see the rats staring back. Do we throw a spoiled tantrum? Do we claim we’ve been robbed? After all, didn’t we make our life-expectations ultimately clear to our Father in Heaven through prayer?!
What Sarah had learned so well in Kindergarten that year is also great advice for us when our reality doesn’t precisely measure up to our expectations. And that’s simply, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” After all, Heavenly Father may not be giving us exactly what we want because He knows exactly what we need.
At least, for now.