In recent holiday seasons, generous benefactors have paid off layaway balances for strangers at various department stores. We love these feel good stories because the gifts surprise people who likely struggle to live paycheck to paycheck and givers know recipients are getting exactly what they want. Recently, I was startled by a long line at a Walmart Layaway desk. I wondered if the proliferation of layaway giveaways has given some false hope to people about scoring some free stuff. Have more people put items on layaway just in case? Another popular giveaway has been the tradition of anonymous donors dropping rare valuable coins into donation buckets and kettles. No false hopes were raised on the street (except maybe by bucket thieves) because the money was going to charity. I passed out eight Lotto tickets on Christmas Eve. My eight year old granddaughter wanted to know if she could have a dog if she won the $1.7 million. I said, “No, but you can get all the LOL dolls and accessories you want.” For the next 24 hours, she bugged me about when the numbers were being announced on Christmas. Unrealistic expectations get fueled by an under appreciation of the long odds involved. That is why I was so disappointed when I did not become a major league baseball player. Or a Supreme Court Justice. Or a Lotto winner this past Christmas. I was going to use my winnings to pay off all the merchandise I put on layaway.


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