by Father Mark Goldasich
Still in shock over the Chiefs’ win over the Bears on Sunday, I was mindlessly channel surfing. I was jarred to attention, though, when I heard about a new game show “coming up next on ABC.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. The show was called “You Deserve It.” Really? Aren’t there enough shows already that encourage us to grab all that we can for ourselves, to “go big or go home”? At least the show’s title is honest, I thought to myself. And it sounds better than “It’s Your Right to be Greedy.”
I’m so glad that I stuck around the watch the show because everything I thought that it was, it wasn’t. Although called “You Deserve It,” the “you” being referred to is not the contestant playing the game nor someone in the studio audience. In fact, the “you” has no idea of what’s going on.
Let me explain: The contestant onstage is playing for money — potentially lots and lots of it. But all of the money won will be given to someone else. In this episode, a woman was playing for a friend of hers, who had recently lost her husband in a drowning accident. The widow had two small girls, very little health insurance, and was struggling to keep things afloat. A short video clip detailed the widow’s story.
The contestant thought that her friend “deserved” to get some unexpected help, and that’s what landed her on the game show. It was touching to see the love that the contestant had for her best friend.
I was watching the show at my mom’s house and soon she joined me in the TV room. Before you knew it, we were both shouting out encouragement to the contestant . . . as well as the answers! Not only did the person playing the game want to win as much as she could, but people watching — both in the studio and at home — wanted the same thing.
In the end, the contestant won a whopping $110,800 for her friend.
But that’s not the end of the show. In this particular one, the widow and her two daughters were in a movie theater, watched by a hidden camera. As the movie ended, the lights in the theater came up and in burst the widow’s family and friends, much to her delight and surprise. She became totally confused, though, when a woman with a microphone asked her to turn to the screen in the theater. There, the host of “You Deserve It” smiled and told her that someone had been a contestant on his game show and had won some money.
Next, the widow’s friend appeared on the screen and, with tears in her eyes informed her best friend that all of the money she had won was going her and her girls. That brought on a rush of tears, followed by an even bigger gusher when the amount — $110,800 — was announced. (Mom and I were applauding and crying like babies by this time, too.)
Now, that’s a great game show. Although it’s only set to air six episodes during the holidays, I’m thrilled that someone came up with this concept in the first place. (It actually brought back memories of “Queen for a Day,” which was on TV when I was a kid.)
We’re now mired in the “holiday season,” where every commercial on TV seems to tempt us with yet another “must have” new item. Our email inboxes are groaning each day under the weight of offers for reduced prices on gifts, free shipping and other incentives. Magazines and catalogs tumble like an avalanche into our homes, displaying the perfect Christmas tree, decorations or meals to buy.
If you’re weary of all this, then this issue of The Leaven should help. Our front-page story and Bill Scholl’s article at the bottom of the next page inject some sanity into these Advent days.
Maybe we can even use “You Deserve It” as an inspiration for the rest of Advent. To add a little game show suspense into the mix, grab a pair of dice and roll them. Let the number that comes up indicate how many people you’ll contact to let them know “they deserve it.” With a note or a little gift, sing the praises of someone whose goodness is unsung. It might be a waitress at your favorite restaurant, a receptionist at your dentist’s office, your garbage collector or postal carrier, the maintenance man at work, an usher or greeter at church, the kid who answers your computer questions, or your car mechanic. Because of the service these people so willingly perform, tell them by your appreciation, “You deserve it.” Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t bring tears to their eyes . . . and to yours.
Honoring others in this way may make this the best and holiest Christmas ever. And that’s something that we all deserve.