Skill Or Luck

Skill Or Luck

Ms. Claus and I had just arrived in the Elves Recreation Center when we noticed Lyra and Dewey playing cards.

“You must be the luckiest elf at the North Pole,” I heard Dewey sneer.

“It’s all skill,” Lyra snapped.

“Luck,” shouted Dewey.

When the discussion worsened into a yelling match, Anya and I stepped in. “Settle down!” I exclaimed. “Maybe both of you are right.”

“Are you saying that to make us happy?” Lyra demanded pushing her cards across the table.

“I would never do that.” After gathering the cards, I sat down with Ms. Claus. “First, can either of you tell me what skill really is?”

Both the elves looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.

“Well, if you are skilled, that would mean you have a talent, ability, or expertise at something. Like Doheny and her baking skills.”

“You mean how she makes the absolute best cookies, pies, cakes and other stuff and hardly ever looks at a recipe?” Lyra asked.

“Yes, or how Highstep seems to be able to talk with the reindeer and knows all about them. Most elves at the North Pole can see how talented both of them are.”

All of us at the table nodded. “So tell me, what’s your talent Dewey, and Lyra what are you good at doing?” I asked.

When neither elf knew what to say, Anya looked at Lyra. “You must be good at that card game you were playing?”

“Sure. My grandma taught me all kinds of card games when I was little. I love playing, and I’ve gotten good at most of them.”

“How long have you been playing cards, Dewey?” I asked.

The elf had a quizzical look on his face. “About two years.”

“Hum, that’s a big difference. Lyra has been playing since she was little. I’d say she has become very skillful, wouldn’t you?”

Dewey rolled his eyes and sighed. “I get your point Santa. But… does that mean that you can only win or succeed if you are smart in what you do or have been doing it for many years?”

Lyra beamed with pride. “Told you so.”

Anya slipped her arm around Dewey. “Having skills is only part of winning a game.” My wife went over to the game cabinet and pulled out Scrabble. “I know most elves like words and word games,” she said and set up the board for Lyra and Dewey. “So let’s see how the two of you do in this game.”

Excited, the elves picked their letters. “I guess there’s a lesson in this somewhere,” Lyra mumbled sarcastically, “but I know I’m going to beat the pants off you Dewey.”

“We’ll see because I know what I’m doing,” he answered.

“You both do,” I said, “so play on.”

The elves went back and forth in creating words and earning points until Lyra stopped and shook her head. I noticed Anya looking over Lyra’s shoulder. “Hmm,” she murmured.

“Come on Lyra,” Dewey complained, “you’re taking too long. I got a great word.”

“Yeah,” Lyra grumbled. “At least you can play. I can’t. I don’t have any vowels.”

“That means you have to lose a turn. Then you can exchange all your letters,” explained Ms. Claus.

“Not fair,” moaned Lyra.

“Rules of the game,” I said. “Got to play fair.”

The game continued, but it was clearly Dewey who kept gaining more points. When it ended, the elf clapped his hands and started dancing around the table.

“I don’t know why you’re being such an idiot,” Lyra whined. “We’re both good at Scrabble. You were just lucky.”

“What did you say?” I asked quickly.

“Just luc….” Lyra put her hands over her mouth.

“Success even in a game is both skill and luck combined,” I explained. “Great success, however, like you see in Doheny and Highstep, is more talent, but luck plays into their achievements.”

“Does that mean they are equal?” Lyra asked.

“Not necessarily. Success can happen because someone has the necessary talent, puts in extra effort, or can be in the right place at the right time.”

“Or they are lucky!” Dewey exclaimed.

“Yes, or they are lucky,” I chuckled.

Anya slipped her arms across the shoulders of both elves and hugged them. “In Scrabble, both of you are talented in putting words together, but Dewey’s luck overcame both of your skills.”

“In the case of card games, Lyra has played longer than you, Dewey,” I explained. “She has the ability to remember cards that have been played and cards you have picked up. Luck plays into the game if Lyra picks up the right cards she needs. If your cards come up before hers, skill won’t matter, and you’ll win.”

“Remember,” Ms. Claus added, “it’s just a game, so relax and have fun.”

As Anya and I got up and started walking toward the door, she slipped her arm through mine. “Do you think they will see how all that applies to other things in life and not just games?”

“I’d say as soon as they start work tomorrow, it will hit them, and then knowing Lyra, it will be the topic of the day with every elf she sees. Then the North Pole will explode with opinions and arguments. But our elves are smart. Let them figure it out.”

Notes From Santa

I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Stories are posted on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, except December. Santa’s next story will be posted on Saturday April 1, 2023. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to write about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until the next time . . .

To read more about Lyra please check out

With A Little Help from My Friends – July 1, 2019
Santa’s Improved Sleigh – March 16, 2020
Pie Day – March 15, 2021
Is Santa Retiring – April 26, 2021
Sad Santa – January 15, 2022
Goofing Off – April 1, 2022
Lucky Charm – February 18, 2022

To read more about Lyra please check out

Magic Beans – June 21, 2021

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