Listen to the women in your life – and mind that paperwork!

It’s going to be a merry Christmas for 51-year-old British builder Andrew Clark, formerly self-employed but now happily retired. The grandfather of three had a stack of lotto tickets in his work van: 50 potential winners – big and small – clipped on the visor and in process of being ignored.

Who wins the lotto? Really?

Buy a ticket, get excited and get disappointed. It’s a cycle. So why rush the letdown?

Clark was in no hurry, but “checked the ticket because his partner and her niece badgered him after they heard about a local unclaimed prize,” according to Sky News. That nudging went on for weeks. “Trisha (his partner) kept telling me to check the tickets, and her niece Louise, who I was building an extension for, was also in on it once she’d heard about the unclaimed prize in the news.”

He snagged a couple of low-ball winning tickets and wanted to delay checking the biggies. But he didn’t. And he’s glad he didn’t.

“It almost feels like some magical Christmas story, the man who nearly lost £76 million! ($96 million)”
Clark is reported saying in the Sun.

Check out this interview with the low-key Clark and his beloved partner:

But while this Christmas is going to be a merry one – if only because Clark has already begun sharing his boon with friends and family – next year will be the kicker. The plan? “Trisha and I have this vision of hiring a big lodge or hotel so that the whole family can get together and swap stories about how they’ve spent their share over the past 12 months.”

And it’s going to be a wonderful new year – mortgages paid off for friends and family, the grandchildren financially set up, and Trisha’s daughter (who has special needs) given the means to obtain whatever services she requires for life.

Clark doesn’t have any plans to give up playing the lotto. “I don’t do any other gambling, but I will still buy my £1 scratch card.”

And look to Trisha to keep him grounded.


Santa Claus – essential personnel

There was no “bah humbug” at Peterson Airforce Base last night, not even in the aftermath of purportedly Grinchy government shutdowns. Santa Claus does not stop his Christmas deliveries. And the 1,500 person crew of NORAD Santa Tracker, consisting of military personnel and volunteers, showed up for their two-hour shifts.

Keeping satellites trained on the red-suited wonder and answering children’s questions – if Santa Claus is real, where his travels take him, and what they’d like to receive – was the order of the day. All day. Santa’s duties take him around the globe. Sounds expensive.

But no worries.

“Any funding involved was approved before the budget standoff,” the AP reports. Not that Americans were really concerned about that. Christmas comes despite the Grinch, a fictional nasty currently used to paint someone else as the bad guy.

Check out the video below to get the skinny on how the critical nature of Santa-specific tracking fell to the combat operations center:

Terri Van Keuren, Rick Shoup and Pam Farrell – the children of Colonel Santa who started it all – recalls how it all began according to NPR:

Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number,” she says.

“This was the ’50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States,” Rick says.

Sears ad with wrong number

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. “And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’

The straight-laced Shoup, not one for monkey business, was not amused. But the little boy crying on the other end of the red phone eventually convinced Shoup the call was no joke. So he ho-ho-hoed and subsequently discovered from the child’s mother that the telephone number had been advertised by Sears. Oops.

The red phone kept ringing. Shoup assigned airmen to play Santa. Something that seemed silly at first, but the children were overjoyed:

“He got letters from all over the world, people saying, ‘Thank you, Colonel,’ for having, you know, this sense of humor. And in his 90s, he would carry those letters around with him in a briefcase that had a lock on it like it was top-secret information.”

Thank goodness for essential personnel, and the Christmas spirit that lives on despite Grinches or government shutdowns.

Advent calendar (Pexels copyright-free image)

Advent calendar candies – not for humans

Advent calendars. Remember those?

Wiki explains, “An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the First Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, many Advent calendars, especially those that are reusable, often begin on December 1, although those that are produced for a specific year often include the last few days of November that are part of the liturgical season.”

So busy British mom Jess Evans – instead of grabbing a calendar that would keep her children in mind of the reason behind the season, the birth of Jesus – picked up a Garfield calendar at the local B&M. A box of candies accompanied the calendar. Special treats to steep excitement for the coming holidays. (Not something that came with my advent calendars – candies were reserved for Sunday.)

But nine-year-old Alissa didn’t like the candies. They tasted – funny.

Picky, however, isn’t the attitude to foster in the run up to Christmas. Jess Evans dismissed the complaint, noting the odd greenish color of the “chocolate” but assumed they were an apple flavor.

Days later, with the candies going uneaten, the curious mother asked what the problem was. Her daughter didn’t say they were horrible, after all. Jess was gifted with the box. The box that included a description of the contents that were yogurt cat treats flavored with catnip. YUM.

“I was in shock and felt like the worst mother ever when I realized I’d bought her a calendar for cats,” Evans told Entertainment Daily. “I have a degree in English literature and creative writing. But still couldn’t read a calendar and it had taken me 11 days to realize.”

Good news is, Alissa is okay. I’ll bet advent is one season she’ll never forget.

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