There are two kinds of people in the world: those who enter contests and those who don't.
My grandmother was absolutely positive that she was going to win the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. No one knows how many magazines she bought over the years, but I believe her Reader's Digest subscription will continue in perpetuity. Each year, during Prize Week, she would get her hair done and dress up every day, refusing to leave the house because she was convinced that Ed McMahon and the Prize Patrol would knock on her door any minute with a giant cardboard check. We teased her about it gently, rolled our eyes behind her back, and secretly hoped she would win. She never did and I, personally, will never forgive Ed McMahon for disappointing her.
Some people are born lucky. In our family, the winner is my youngest boy. In fact, he is so successful at raffles that we now only enter his name. Most recently, at the annual elementary school fall fundraiser, in addition to the chocolate covered pretzels he won at the cake walk, his name was pulled during the raffle, winning a really cool felt pumpkin bucket full of gummy candies that we handed out for Halloween.
I'm not a big risk taker, so most of the contests available to me (gambling, the lottery) don't appeal. Oh, we all have our price, and mine is $100 million. On the rare occasion when our state Lotto jackpot reaches that high-water mark, I buy a ticket. Just one, as I'm only willing to flush one buck down the toilet at a time. So far, I am not a winner.
My fellow writer, Cindy Fey, recently entered a writing contest. That is so ambitious and productive. I'm more of a fill-out-the-form-and-drop-it-in-the-box kind of contestant. Just this weekend, at the grand opening of a new L.L. Bean store at our local mall, I filled out a form to win a $1000 family kayak package. I have no idea what I would do with it if I actually won this contest, as no one in my family has ever been kayaking, but hey, sometimes you have to take a chance.
A few years ago, I saw the Julianne Moore movie, The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio. It was based on a book by Terry Ryan about how her mother, Evelyn, "raised 10 kids on 25 words or less" by entering jingle contests during the 1950s and '60s. Evelyn won more than 200 contests, with prizes ranging from food and watches to European trips and sports cars.
My brain is cluttered with advertising jingles, frequently blocking out important information like my children's names. I've tried repeatedly to delete these maddening little snippets from my hard drive with no success. I still know how to spell bologna; I still know where Bandaids stick; and I still know what kind of kids eat Armour Hotdogs.
Despite the number of cells my brain has devoted to jingles, I was intrigued by Evelyn Ryan's story. I love that she used her talent to help her family at a time when her options were limited. In addition to her talent, Evelyn learned to jump through all the quirky hoops required of these kinds of contests. It must have been a full-time job. As a life-long direction follower, I appreciate her tenacity and attention to detail. Watching the movie, I became nostalgic for a time I don't remember where these kinds of contests were commonplace.
So, a few weeks ago I was inspired by Evelyn to enter an online giveaway through a blog called Tippy Toes and Tantrums. The idea was to win holiday cards offered by Tiny Prints by writing a holiday greeting. Guess what? I won! Here's my greeting:
A little merry, a little glow
A little love and mistletoe.
The gift of thanks, the gift of cheer
With peace and joy throughout the year.
Clearly the moral of this story is that I should stop trying to write the next Nobel Prize winning novel, the next Newbery Medal winning children's book, and the next Pulitzer Prize winning editorial, and stick to writing schmaltzy greeting card copy.
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