The “Boxing Day” tradition of New Zealand, like most of the current or former British Empire, is to return to stores on the day after Christmas the unwanted or ill-fitting gifts of Christmas. My wife and I exchanged no gifts this year, except for the gift of time with each other and our China-based son and his wife in New Zealand. So we had nothing to return, and we’ve had moments to savor.
Outside our window on Christmas Day was an extinct volcano rising 758 feet above New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty coast. Its peak was hidden in clouds sent by the remnants of Cyclone Evan. We couldn’t see the top of Mt. Maunganui; but our fragment of the Roberts family who had gathered for this holiday, below the equator and on the other side of the International Dateline, decided on a “Christmas climb” anyway.
Attempting a challenge whose goal is shrouded in uncertainty is an every-season experience of coaches, which may be the opiate that draws so many men and women to that vocation for so long, and consumes coaches so far beyond what are reasonable hours for most other occupations.
Even in the more mundane existence of a state high school association administrator, it is the unknown of each year, week and day that energizes the grind. How boring it would be to know what’s at the end of each climb. How exciting it can be to come to a problem-solving table with good ideas and also with the expectation that the best ideas will come out of collaboration with others’ good ideas.
I count myself among the fortunate folks who, at the end of most days and weeks and years, do not feel inclined to want to return the gifts that each has brought. And I’m still attracted to the discovery of what the next cloud-shrouded climb may reveal.