Hope In Action: What Santa Can Teach Us About Hope

Hope is believing that when you set out cookies and milk, Santa will come. – Trish Kendall

My family and I celebrate Christmas, and I absolutely love it. I love our family traditions, like spending Christmas Eve with extended family which turns into a too-late night. And every year we stay up too late, Grandma and Grandpa still come to our house by 6:00AM Christmas morning to watch our kids run downstairs with the excitement and anticipation of what Santa brought! I love the absolute abundance of good food and the extra time spent with family. But most of all, I love the hope that is intrinsically wrapped into everything about this holiday.

When my kids were little, we put cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. The sparkle in their eyes as they placed the cookies just ‘so’ and made sure the glass of milk was the perfect distance away from the plate of cookies melted my heart each year. They would scurry up to their beds, knowing that falling asleep was the last thing they had to do before Christmas morning arrived. And they burst with the hope that Santa would come with presents in hand!

Hope In Action: Choose and Become

As I reflect on this tradition, it reveals so much about hope. Not just for Christmas morning, but in every aspect of life.

Kids are “good” in hopes that Santa will reward them on Christmas with gifts. They leave out cookies and milk, hoping that this nod of thanks will get them another toy or two.

Hope is choosing to believe that the outcome of our actions will give us the result we want. In other words, fulfilling our dreams and aspirations has much to do with the work that we put in!

To be clear, that doesn’t mean that if we put in loads of work, things will always turn out how we hope. Sometimes we lay out cookies and milk and the presents from our Santa letter come. Other times, we lay out cookies and milk and unexpected presents come. And sometimes we lay out cookies and milk and only get stocking stuffers. But my experience is that rarely does putting in the effort and work–making those cookies and chilling that milk–result in no Santa at all!

Regardless of the outcomes, hope in action is making a choice to have a positive outlook, knowing that we did everything we could to get the result we want. Then, we hope that things will turn out in our favor.

Holding A Glass Half-Full (of Hope) Perspective

I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal. Given my background, this surprises people. When I chose to accept the beat of hope that came in the form of a phone call from my sister, just as I was about to purposefully overdose, my life was changed. And with it, my perspective. I no longer sit around and wait for something to happen. I believe that the work I put in is my best chance of realizing my goals. I do what I can, and hope for the best!

A recent glass-half-full opportunity came when my ten-year-old son Sam’s baseball team played their sectional championship game a few weeks ago. I had such hope that they would win because I saw the hard work that he and his teammates put into each and every practice. I knew they had a good chance of winning because they had the discipline to compete at that level. Was there a chance they would be beaten – of course! But I knew it was possible for them to win, because they put in the work.

Alternatively, a glass half-empty perspective would focus on how good the other team is, how they lost to this team twice before, and even with hard work, they would most likely not win. That kind of perspective would squash the morale of the team. It would cause the parents to complain about the length of practices and cause dissension between them and the coaches. Who wants to live like that? I know I don’t…and Sammy doesn’t either!

Losses hurt, but there is always hope for next time when we put in the effort now to get better.

Relationships Built On Hope

Relationships are hard. They require selflessness, humility, negotiation, and a myriad of other characteristics and actions that don’t come easy. I’ve learned the hard way that you have to put into relationships what you want out of them.

When I was a child, the pattern of sexual abuse from my father included frequent moves so that no one would notice what was happening at home. I was isolated, lonely, and didn’t know what a healthy relationship was. When I first started dating my husband, Joe, we were on-again, off-again because I did not have hope that we could succeed. I didn’t have the experience to show me that if I put the work into a relationship, there was hope for a healthy, successful relationship. Joe was patient and committed as he put the work (and love) into our relationship. Over and over again, he was providing evidence that there was hope for us through healthy boundaries, openness, perseverance, honesty, two-way communication, candidness, and love. On September 6 we will celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary, and I am still head-over-heels in love with him.

On the other hand, I know there are plenty of relationships that have crashed and burned when one person put in all the work and it just didn’t work out, for whatever reason. Heartbreak hurts, and we will all experience it at some point in our lives. Having experienced both love and loss, I personally believe the old saying is true: “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Once you have experienced love, even if you lose it, you have hope that love exists. And it’s still out there, waiting for you!

Business and Hope

I set out freshly-baked cookies and chilled milk in my professional life, too. Business, or professional, success has the same formula for hope in action. The work you put in sets up success, with hope abounding. By putting in the work you can hope to develop trusting and enduring professional relationships and a thriving and profitable business. Hope is choosing to believe that if I put in the work, the results will follow.

Obviously, there are many elements that go into business success, but hope, with action, is a big stakeholder. In fact, according to a recent Gallup study,Employees who strongly agree that their leader makes them feel enthusiastic about the future are 69 times more likely to be engaged in their work.”

Encouraging hope in the workplace can take many forms: establishing good habits, prioritizing tasks appropriately, being authentic with your team, embodying trust, and taking healthy risks. Implement just one of these hope-inspiring actions, and take notes on how your team and business changes.

Doing one little thing now is taking one step closer to hope.

About Trish Kendall

An expert on creating enduring success, inspirational speaker Trish Kendall, transforms audiences belief of success. Trish brings candid stories, humor in the face of true hardship, simple lessons, compassion and love to all her speaking engagements. Follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook and sign up for her newsletter for regular inspiration and wisdom regarding community building, belonging, choosing love, and enduring success.

If you’re ready to book Trish as your next keynote speaker or if you want to learn more about her story and her message, please reach out.

“I’m inspired by your passion to effect change and confident that you will. You were truly amazing tonight. Truly. Amazing.”


  1. Dolores Falconer on August 13, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    Trish ,
    I love reading your newest entry on the Internet! You inspire me every time. I am now in my older years and still receive such hopeful and inspiring messages from you. No matter where we are in our lives you seem to reach both the hearts and souls of women experiencing the challenges and hardships of their lives. Thanks for your loving leadership, your compassionate heart reaching out to others
    who may be in need of finding a better life.
    A better life in their homes and in their work environment. You give us guidance and hope!

  2. Dolores Falconer on August 13, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    I am in the final years of my life and I must say your words of encouragement even help me. I am no longer in the work environment but I love to read your writings about compassion and hope. Now there are still challenges I must face, and your
    hopeful messages reach my soul too.
    Thanks so very much!

    • Trish Kendall on October 7, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      Mom…you are my biggest fan and steadfast supporter. I love you.

  3. Stefani Pady on August 15, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    I am sharing your Gallup study with a client! Thank you for the insight. I love reading your words!

    • Trish Kendall on October 7, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      xoxox! Thank you. And so glad you can pass along.

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