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The holiday season blesses us with several stories that embody the good teammate approach. Among my favorites is the story of the Christmas oranges. A few different variations of the story exist, but they all end the same way and contain the same heartwarming message.

Patricia Polacco’s version, An Orange for Frankie, revolves around the Stowell family’s holiday tradition of decorating their mantelpiece with evergreens and fresh oranges, which the children eat on Christmas Eve.

Even though Frankie, the youngest of the nine Stowell children, was told not to touch the oranges, he can’t resist taking his down from the mantelpiece. When Frankie hears his mother entering the room, he hides his orange in his pocket.

But Frankie forgets about putting the orange in his pocket and loses it on the ride home from the Christmas pageant. Later that evening, while explaining to his mother why his orange is missing from the mantelpiece, Frankie confesses to giving his new sweater to a shirtless hobo earlier in the day.

Though disappointed with his losing the orange, Frankie’s mother assures him that giving his sweater to someone in need was noble and in keeping with the true Christmas spirit.

Frankie accepts that he will not be able to participate in the family’s tradition this year and heads downstairs. Upon his arrival, his siblings hand him an orange with a ribbon tied around it. Frankie quickly realizes the ribbon is holding together eight individual wedges and that each of his siblings’ oranges is missing a wedge.

The story of the Christmas oranges contains a valuable “good teammate” reminder: You don’t have to be whole to make someone else whole.

Sometimes people hesitate to give of themselves for fear of losing their worth. But giving a portion of yourself to someone in need does not diminish your worth; it magnifies your value.

To be a good teammate, you must be mindful of your actions and understand that actions that seem trivial to you may be monumental to someone else. Likewise, problems that seem monumental to you may be trivial to someone else.

Allowing yourself to be consumed with your life’s problems can lead you to mistakenly thinking you’re not able to make a difference in someone else’s life. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Your life doesn’t have to be perfect to help others. You don’t need to have all your ducks in a row or your stars aligned to be a difference maker. Small sacrifices, kind gestures, and encouraging words are accessible to both the perfect and flawed.

The great miracle of service is that by helping others, you inescapably help yourself. Service, like the ribbon around the orange wedges in the story, binds team members to each other. When you have the potential to make a teammate whole again, act without hesitation.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.


Holiday Fun!

Promote the holiday season while encouraging kids to be good teammates! Download this printable holiday coloring page for FREE by clicking on the link below. Send photos of completed pages to info@coachloya.com to be entered into a drawing for a Good Teammate t-shirt. (*Entry deadline is December 18, 2020.)

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Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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