Play Dates & Movie Quotes


Mommy Play Dates

Mommy Play Dates

Let me first recognize that being a parent is hard no matter what. And, that being a single parent (regardless of gender) is really hard.  But, there are some unique struggles and advantages that come with being a single dad. Like play dates.

Kids love “play dates”. Funny, how I never had one of those growing up. I just hung out at a friend’s house until the street lights came on and then had to get my little butt back home. That was my small town life experience. Living in the modern big city world we don’t want our kids out of our sight. For good reason, but it creates extra pressure on us to coordinate time with other families to play. Scheduled play time?!

So, just finding time on any given weeknight or weekend is hard enough between all the extracurricular activities that our kids are scheduled in (especially when you have multiple kids). The other difficulty becomes actually scheduling with the “scheduler”. I have good dad friends and I’m friends with their wives, too. But, I don’t communicate daily with either. It could be somewhat awkward to be texting someone’s wife on a regular basis. Both for me and my buddie’s wife. That’s one. The second thing is guys and gals just communicate differently. I never really noticed before having kids, but watching two or three moms standing around chatting about stuff I could care less about, they might slide in a comment about having an unscheduled Sunday afternoon. A rarity for sure.

And, there it is. The unconscious/conscious need to schedule every minute of the week. And, it was as natural as dandelions in my yard (yeah, I need time to throw out some weed and seed in between making dinner and wiping butts). This is no dig on the moms, just the natural course of how they operate. When I talk to the dads of aforementioned moms they can never commit to anything without checking with the “scheduler” a.k.a. the Mrs. I guess the takeaway here is I need to brush up on the latest reality TV show, latest fashion trend and maybe the latest celebrity gossip because I’m guessing they aren’t going to get caught up on muscle cars, woodworking, football and camping equipment.

It’s not all bad. I’ve just had to “adapt, improvise and overcome.” Darn it, I need some new movie quotes, they aren’t too likely to know that quote from my boy Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge. Maybe something from Legally Blonde? Ugh!

Backpacking In Los Angeles – Ontario, Big Horn Peaks & Kelly Camp

IMG_4296My last backpacking trip was about 5 years ago in the Golden Trout Wilderness. I’ve been dreaming about that hike to Frog Meadow ever since and trying to coordinate my next backcountry adventure. This past Labor Day Weekend I finally found the time to make it happen.  I’m also happy to report that the San Bernardino Mountains didn’t kill me. Quite the contrary, they invigorated me.

I didn’t have any plans for the Labor Day Weekend. I’ve been going over my gear list for my upcoming Oct backpacking trip with friends and I just watched A Walk In The Woods with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. I guess my mind was primed for it. I decided at the last-minute to take an overnight, but didn’t know where to go. I had some trails in mind that I’ve day-hiked before, but I wanted to see some different country. So, I visited the Modern Hiker website. He has done a great job with pictures and descriptions of California hikes.

IMG_4263Based on those descriptions, I narrowed down my choices and after making a phone call to one of the ranger stations I decided to hike Ontario Peak (rated difficult) and camp at Kelly Camp; just below it in a grove of Sequoia trees. The trail starts at 4,960 elevation and rises to 8,859 at the summit of Ontario Peak. I probably could have found a more moderate hike for my rusty legs, but I needed to test my mettle.

Loaded REI Flash 62

Loaded REI Flash 62

I filled my REI Flash 62 with my REI two person tent, new JetBoil Minimo stove, food [a couple of Mountain House freeze-dried meals (Mountain House Beef Stroganoff and scrambled eggs/bacon), beef jerky, nuts and dried fruit and two nectarines], North Face +20 bag, Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Trekker Air Mattress, Icebreaker Men’s Oasis Merino Wool T-Shirt, my Crazy Creek Camp Chair, first aid kit, Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System, headlamp, gloves, beanie, Patagonia Fleece and REI down alternative coat. I had a few other items, too, but those were the basics.

I arrived around 7:45 at the trailhead and there were only a couple of spots left to park in the lot. I hung up my Adventure Pass and walked past a few street spots that were still left

By 8am I filled out my wilderness permit paperwork and dropped it in the box at the trailhead (no need to go to the ranger station). Went back to car and strapped on my pack for the climb up through Ice House Canyon Trail. There is a large portion that is exclusively walking on a bed of rocks and a lot of the trail is just rocky through the first mile or so. The trail is beside a lovely creek that provides the sound of water gurgling as you hike past several cabins on the creek that look like they are privately owned.

Trickle At Columbine Spring Filling My Scout Canteen

Trickle At Columbine Spring Filling My Scout Canteen

Within 45 minutes I had reached Columbine Spring and I was very thankful to see fresh water trickling out of the rocks. I was one of the only ones stopping to fill up and I was sure thankful that it was there allowing me to make the first 2 miles without the extra weight. Now, completely loaded down with approximately 3.5 liters of water (1.5L in my platypus bladder, 500ml water bottle, 1 qt scout canteen and my Sawyer Mini water filter provided another 16oz) – I would have liked another liter to feel better prepared, but didn’t want the extra weight. Rested and hydrated I was off and made the Ice House Saddle by 9:50.

Ice House Saddle At Kelly Camp Trail Marker

Ice House Saddle At Kelly Camp Trail Marker

After a short respite, I was heading up toward Kelly Camp. What a beautiful little spot under a grove of Sequoias. By 11:09 I had explored the little primitive camp, found the ideal spot for me, pitched my tent, blew up my mattress, spread out my bag and laid down to enjoy the fruits of my labor in the cool shade.
Fortunately, I was the first one there that morning and got to purview the various excellent flat spots that used to be the foundations of buildings that long since burned down. Dan’s Hiking Page has a great old postcard photo of what it once was looked like. After a quick rest I was ready to tackle Ontario Peak.

Kelly Camp

Kelly Camp

Trail Intersection for Big Horn and Ontario Peaks

Trail Intersection for Big Horn and Ontario Peaks

I’m not exactly sure what time I left Kelly Camp, but I was back in camp by 2:27 after summiting Ontario Peak, taking some photos, signing the log and laying out on a rock soaking in the warm sun while listening to the sounds of the forest. From the summit, I could make out the plethora of antennas on top of Mt Wilson to the south-west of Ontario along with views of Claremont below and the San Jacinto Mountains on the other side of the valley floor.

Jetboil MiniMo and REI Passage 2 Tent in Background

Jetboil MiniMo and REI Passage 2 Tent in Background

I rested for an hour or two in my tent reading The Alchemist before I got up, put my boots back on and started to make some dinner. I also began chatting with my “neighbors” that had moved in while I was on my hike. My lonely camp ground now had two more tents and before the night was over 4 more tents would make camp for the night.
The Mountain House beef stroganoff was pretty tasty. I boiled up two cups of water in my Jetboil MiniMo and waited as the hot water worked its magic in the package for about 9 minutes. Not exactly a gourmet meal, but after hiking around all day I had no problem gulping down the 2.5 servings that the package claimed was in there. After a fruit cup for dessert I settled in with more reading and watching the activity of the fellow campers making their dinners.

I actually didn’t get a lot of reading done because of the ongoing conversations with my fellow campers. We talked about politics, foreign travel, more politics, backpacking, camping gear, history, kids, economics, marriage and divorce. Another camper had pictures to show of the timber rattler he encountered on his hike up to Big Horn; nothing like the sound of rattles on a snake to get your pulse to beat faster.

IMG_4264I never fully sleep when I’m in a new place whether a hotel or campground. But, I’m especially alert when camping in a wilderness area. That being said, my Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Trekker Air Mattress was very comfy and my The North Face Cat’s Meow 20 Degree Sleeping Bag was almost too hot for most of the night. I didn’t bring the rainfly for my tent and that allowed me to look up and see the moon and stars in the middle of the night.

The next morning, I poured a little Horizon milk over my granola, made some Starbucks Via Colombian coffee (which was so good I had a second cup) and I leisurely enjoyed the morning while all of my fellow campers were breaking camp. I waited for most of them to pack, bid them all farewell and I headed up to summit Big Horn at around 8:45. I actually got there so quickly that I didn’t think I had arrived and went down the other side looking for the taller peak. What I found was a view of hikers heading up to Cucamonga Peak across the canyon and I found full LTE Verizon service at the following coordinates 34.232851,-117.595206

So, I took a couple more photos, sent text messages, updated my Facebook status and dropped a Google Map pin to save and share the coordinates for later. I walked over to the other side of the hill and could even catch a glimpse of Victorville and Hesperia on the other side of the mountains. I took a few minutes to just stop and commune with nature, talked to God, talked to my recently departed dad and watched the clouds flow past me so close it felt like I could touch them.

Looking at Big Horn Peak from the trail

Looking at Big Horn Peak from the trail

I headed back down took a photo of Big Horn Peak and a few last lingering looks at the finely planned roads and houses below in Rancho Cucamonga then finally bid farewell. I headed back down the short trail to the grove of Sequoia sentinels watching over my tent. Within a landscape devoid of thick forests the Sequoia grove really stood out as a unique feature.

I was back to my tent by 10:56, began breaking down and re-packing while new campers were arriving and looking for their ideal overnight spot at Kelly Camp. I got everything packed, ate my last nectarine along with some trail mix, dried apricots and cashews while washing it all down with a little bit of water before heading out. Strapped on the pack and bid farewell to Kelly Camp along with its new transient residents by 12:06.

I reached my car by about 2:11 with tired feet and fatigued legs. I’m not sure which was harder on my body; climbing the 3,733 feet with a loaded pack or coming down. Both are tough on my 46-year-old legs. Before I reached the trail head I filled my belly at Columbine Spring using my Sawyer Mini again. I also filled up my Platypus again. I didn’t really need the extra water, but it was cold and tasted great. Why not?!

Safe Travels!


Advice To Your Younger Self

What’s the best advice you would give to your younger self? Would you change history by telling him about his future?  I think, most of us know that changing moments in history might have devastating effects on your present and future.  Therefore, I find it a fool’s mission to re-think past decisions.  I don’t mean you shouldn’t analyze mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.  I mean exploring the “what if” you made an alternate decision based on the known outcome.  At least part of the problem is, you still don’t know everywhere your life is heading and you might just be altering the future by taking that mistake away from your past.  My analyzer hurts just thinking about it.

Knowing the day of your own death would be equally troubling.  Sure, you might live life more intensely and without fear of dying sooner.  But, knowing your final day would weigh on your mind your whole life.  We all know the approximate human life cycle, but we don’t know what future challenges may or may not kill us. Those that don’t kill us make us stronger and wiser.

Hopefully, I’ll live to be a relatively healthy centenarian with a sound mind.  But, chances are I could be killed tomorrow or I could get to 100 and be trapped deep in my mind by dementia.  How would knowing the future change my decision making process?  Isn’t that a scary question to ponder?  So, I won’t tell my younger self WHAT is going to happen.  Instead, I want to give him some general advice:


  • Be kind, fair, loving, forgiving, vulnerable, faithful and adventurous.
  • Be less judgmental – Trust your gut instinct, but give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • KNOW less and BELIEVE more
    • You control very little. Always strive for the next level of improvement mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But, have faith that things you cannot see or even dream are working in your life.  Try not to mess it up with all that thinking
  • Be more courageous. Be more flexible.
    • Stand up for others more and for yourself a little less. It turns out strength has less to do with muscles and more to do with intestinal fortitude.
  • Finish more projects. Learn to play that guitar instead of letting it collect dust.
  • Stay curious.
    • Read lots of books and articles – seek out modern sages that translate ancient wisdom into a modern world
  • Be a blessing to others.
    • Study the great leaders of spiritual movements that were servant leaders, not the conquerors.
    • The traits of warriors are better than those of conquerors
    • Strive to lead others to serve even in the face of adversity.
  • Don’t fear failure, just try to avoid the same fail twice.
    • Don’t obsess over failures. They are a natural part of life.
    • Successful people openly express the benefits of learning from their failures


  • Be a friend and mentor, give more than you take.
  • Be a mentor and a leader not a manager or a boss
    • People follow honest genuine humans that can communicate their vision
  • Own your mistakes.
    • People will be more forgiving of your mistakes if you are honest about the ones you make.
  • Join a team to play or fight for a cause greater than yourself
  • Becoming the best YOU requires constant learning, experimentation and collaboration with others.  YOU CAN’T DO IT ON YOUR OWN!  No one ever succeeded by themselves.  Your individual efforts and dreams matter, but if you want to succeed help others reach their potential, accept help from others and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Know that happiness comes from the inside and while others can impact your happiness, ultimately you control your feelings.  And, YOU are the only one RESPONSIBLE for your happiness
  • Ultimately, remember, the journey matters as much as the destination.  The destination is just the beginning of the next journey.  Embrace pain and embrace imperfection. You won’t find perfect people or situations. It’s best you accept that now.
  • Few men at the end of their lives wish they had worked more and played less. All men wish they could physically and mentally do what they once had the capacity to do and think.
  • Take this opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t worry too much about what your peers think or say. Chances are in 10 years, you will forget most of them. If it won’t matter in 1, 5 or 10 years, then why should it matter now?


  • Be more careful with the girls’ hearts (and, your own).
  • Don’t avoid a relationship even if you think it will end in pain.
    • The wounds are temporary. The resulting scars are wisdom.
  • Have fun, but let your brain drive more and your libido drive a little less.
  • Love the children in your life and remember to play with them (I’m not telling you when or if you’ll have your own children).


  • I might also suggest you take some of that money you plan to spend on fun and invest it in an index fund and an occasional stock or two from high quality companies.
  • Don’t be afraid to speculate on an occasional stock now and then.
  • Don’t laugh at your friends playing on computers. Instead, consider making an investment in that company that built that Apple computer (I couldn’t resist one future tip)

Well, that advice should get you through about 40 something. I’ll talk to you again in about 40 something years.

If this made you consider what advice you might share with your younger self about money, relationships, and spirituality (or, anything else)?  Leave a comment.  I would love to read it.  Maybe my next post will be the collective wisdom of the crowd that shares the wisdom of their lives (you don’t have to be 40 something or a man, either).

Award Winning PlasmaCars Delight

Santa brought awesome wheels down the chimney.  My 3 and 4 year old kids absolutely loved discovering these shiny new PlasmaCars beneath the tree and my 8 year old the joy of skateboarding.  Of course, the joy of riding them around the nearby empty parking lot ranked even higher than unwrapping them and I enjoyed the fact that there were no batteries or crazy tools required (only a rubber mallet and screwdriver).

My kids enjoying the new PlasmaCars

My kids enjoying the new PlasmaCars

This award-winning toy is a hot ticket anytime of the year.  It is equally at home indoors on hard wood floors or outside on paved surfaces.  I don’t have enough room in my house for them to ride, but I’ve seen kids in other houses making laps through rooms.  What I do have is a nice big concrete patio and the kids race each other before dinner on weeknights.

It isn’t the cheapest toy, but compared to the copious electronic devices that keep kids sedentary, it is a bargain.  And, because they are so sturdy (holding over 200lbs) they will last long enough to be featured in a future garage sale.  Speaking of which, keep your eyes open and you might find a gently used one for your favorite preschooler.

The blue PlasmaCar pictured below is a hotlink that will take you directly to Amazon if you’d like to get one for yourself.  Or, keep an eye out for a one-owner looking fa local garage sale near you.

Your Greatest Achievement – Past, Present or Future?

Their Greatest Achievement? Alexander Remnev's selfie on the 414-metre-high Princess Tower in Dubai

Their Greatest Achievement? Alexander Remnev’s selfie on the 414-metre-high Princess Tower in Dubai


Ever been asked about your greatest achievement?  How do you think your age impacted your answer?  Is it behind you or before you?

Documenting and cataloging our achievements helps us keep score. Likely helping us measure against another human’s achievements.  The achievements of mankind are epic and frankly hard to live up to.  I remember thinking about Alexander the Great conquering the known world in his 30’s while I was still in my 20’s.  I guess, that represents the greatest achievement of a modern man.  Hard for every man after him to compare to that achievement.  What would I conquer?  Now, I know the biggest thing my twenty-something self needed to conquer was youthful fears.

I know now, that I’ve already achieved more than Alexander. I made it to my forties.  HA!! It turns out, most of our greatest achievements are personal victories that likely mean very little to the outside world.  Perhaps, with a few more decades worth of birthdays I’ll conquer the remaining fears and cross a few more things off of my bucket list.  Will I look back with envy or continue to look forward?

I hope to achieve a lot more things, but my some of my goals seem more modest.  No less easy for me, but more simple.  What energy can I put forth that will positively impact my little corner of the world every day?  And, if God sees fit to let me walk this earth another 40+ years I’m sure I’ll continue to ponder this question of past, present and future achievements.  I faithfully believe in an after-life.  No, I won’t be back to relive my life as a bug, tree or eagle (though, wings would be cool).  Hopefully, on my 90th birthday, I’ll still see the potential for greatness ahead.


Do Leaders Need Followers? Maybe!

So, what does it take to be a leader? Can you count the number of times that question has been asked and answered? While many answers exist, this short TED video by Derek Sivers (@sivers) from 2010, offers compelling evidence of leadership.

Dynamite Entertainment's The Lone Ranger #4 co...

Dynamite Entertainment’s The Lone Ranger #4 cover. Art by John Cassaday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaders need followers.  Sure, you can be a lone wolf – a la The Lone Ranger. However, The Lone Ranger’s impact was limited because he lacked followers to carry his vision far and wide. Contrast that with the young man in Derek’s TED presentation.

The first guy to dance inspired another, which then inspired another and the flood gates opened wide from there.  Now, one could argue that getting people to dance at an outdoor concert is like shooting fish in a barrel.  But, what compelled them to run over and dance with this guy and his followers? Dancing in place would have allowed them quicker access to their stuff. Obviously, people like to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

I don’t intend to diminish the ability of any one individual to impact the world. Sometimes, the sacrifice of a single individual will inspire a movement.  But, unless someone communicates that sacrifice the purpose may be lost. Inspiring others to act will exponentially impact the world with every new follower. The Lone Ranger’s mission could not be fulfilled with followers (aside from his side-kick Tonto). His vigilante approach demanded that he live outside societal norms.  Therefore, followers may have meant that he was less capable of fulfilling his mission.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to determine the type of leader you want to become.  Do you have a single mission that will be accomplished within your lifetime? Or, will you start something bigger by attracting followers to carry on your vision.

I thought my single mission was to simply raise my children to be good productive citizens. While that satisfies the basic needs, my mission is more complicated than that. I know I cannot guarantee any specific outcomes, but I feel compelled to continue the progress of past generations.  Perhaps, I can inspire my kids to leadership by emulating those traits and helping them find their passion and their followers.

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Leadership – The Big Lie

Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Napoleon Crossing the Alps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, I don’t think that the “idea” of leadership is a lie.  However, what passes for leadership is a lie.  As a matter of fact, I think many organizations or institutions don’t truly want leaders in their organization.  They want followers and doers.

Gifted leaders possess vision, tenacity, humility, honesty and flexibility.  Yes, historical examples of “leaders” that lacked these traits exist, but they merely support my thesis above.  Often, these “leaders” were in title only or brought out the worst in their followers.  Great historical leaders, while flawed, were far and few in between.  Historical leaders include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, and Mohandas Gandhi.  These people and their contributions will endure through the ages.

Other names will too, but they are far more complicated and not beloved by all.  For example, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, J Edgar Hoover, George Custer, …..  While they all had vision, tenacity and flexibility they lacked honesty and humility.  They often boldly charged into battle, but often for personal glory missing the greater opportunity because of concern for their own legacy.

Too many contemporary “leaders” seek to build their legacy versus building lasting institutions.  They seek to secure their spot in recorded history, but lack the humility and honesty to contribute to enduring institutions.  Few will rise to the historical success of Alexander the Great.  There just isn’t enough of the known world left to conquer.  However, it is totally within our grasp to contribute to something greater than ourselves.  True leadership does not always involve creating lasting institutions, monuments or even a side note in the historical record.  Striving to exemplify leadership traits to your children and those that admire you may be the lasting legacy you seek.  Legacies might be akin to karma.  You may not always have the satisfaction of witnessing karma in action, but be assured that like karma, your legacy will live on in the people you impact and engage along the way.

Strive to emulate the leadership traits of those that did not seek immortality, but instead sought out the opportunities to contribute to institutions greater than themselves.



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4 Critical Leadership Traits

Image via

The not-so-common sense leadership traits of aspiration, planning, inspiration and execution are nicely articulated in this Inc. article, 4 Traits of Great Leaders, written by Matthew Swyers (@trademarkco).   His example of John F. Kennedy rallying a nation to reach for the moon is an easily recognizable accomplishment from the 20th century. Ultimately, he is not saying anything new here, but merely pointing out that an advanced degree in physics isn’t necessary to become a great leader. And, generating ideas does not make you a leader. Great leaders create a plan to achieve their dreams and inspire others around them to help them execute the plan.

I used to believe in the lone wolf strategy of leadership. You might have one or two sidekicks that helped you achieve your goals, but ultimately it was the individual that made things happen. I call this the “Lone Ranger” approach to leadership. As I matured, I realized that the Lone Ranger only impacts his small corner of the planet.  However great he might be, he is limited by his time and geography.

Today I know that to truly change the world in a meaningful way you need to inspire others to follow your plan. You need to be an evangelist and cheerleader. Just because someone bestows a title upon you, does not mean that you will inspire anyone. A title doesn’t inspire people. It might intimidate some people to move when you are present; but, will they still be passionate to carry on once you leave.

Most everyone aspires to be something more and sometimes that makes us simply envious of others. While, other times it inspires us to think we too can do it if we follow their plan. There is a whole industry of people out there trying to sell you their plan for success. Frankly, following a plan may teach you their method of success, but unless you tinker with it and make it your own plan you will not learn how to inspire others. Own your inspiration, own your plan and most importantly inspire others to execute it with you. Learn, revise and execute your plan again if you must. Learning is key, doing is critical!

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46 Money Saving Tips For Startups

Good tips for bootstrapping your new business venture via Breaking Free 46 Ways to Start a Business with No Money.  Thanks to Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) for both the reminders and new ideas for starting a new venture with little to no money.  We know from the Kauffan Foundation that most entrepreneurs start with their own resources and/or borrow from family and friends when starting a new biz.

New businesses need services and Brian offers tips on the best bang-for-the-buck.

  1. Don’t hire employees
  2. Don’t pay rent
  3. Get free legal advice
  4. Get 250 free business cards
  5. Build a free website

Those are a few on his comprehensive list.  What tips would you add?


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The Purpose of Santa

January 3, 1863 cover of Harper's Weekly, one ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking about this Santa subject a lot.  I wrote this about the Psychology Today post (The Case for Keeping Santa) and also commented on this post by  Ted Torreson’s (@ted_torreson) via his blog Faith in Motion.  Bottom-line, like most issues, there are shades of interpretation.

One of the greatest gifts (and burdens) from our Creator is free will.  A burden because the choice is left to each of us whether to follow the teachings of Jesus or not.  It seems the purpose for this gift may have been to ensure that humans came to God out of choice.  Choosing freely makes the choice more genuine.  Have you ever felt pressured to say something nice when someone is fishing for compliments?  “Don’t I look great in this outfit?”

I believe this also encourages us to think (a lot) about everything from what apple color is best for maximum taste satisfaction to the purpose for human existence.  Over the last 200,000 years we learned, shared and collaborated with humans across the globe, which brings us to this unique place in time.  While we are no smarter than the first humans, we are more knowledgeable.  In order for us to go beyond survival we learned to thrive by finding ways to simplify our needs so we can concentrate on higher function desires, which led us from tribes to civilizations.

The basis for our western society stem from some shared beliefs.  Whether Believer or not, Judeo-Christian moral and spiritual beliefs form the basis of our society, just as do Roman and English Common Laws.  But, that is written history.  Before humans began to write and before they painted on rocks, they shared around camp fires.  We tell stories about historical and fictional people to help us make sense of the world, as well as to pass on critical information to our descendants.  From myths, to parables to oral and written histories; humans tell stories through word or image that they hope will be the glue that binds a community together.

The Christmas stories we love to hear, tell, watch and sing ensure that our progeny cherish our values.  Humans seek out ever more creative stories to spark curiosity about the morals being conveyed.  Did you ever have an uncle that told the same story every Thanksgiving?  Did you start tuning out after awhile or begin to mock him?  However, if that uncle was instead telling new stories each year that while different involved the same characters you might be more prone to listen…especially, if he had some oratory skill.   This creative license allows humans to continue refining our stories while sharing the same values each time.

I think the stories about Santa Claus fulfill that same purpose.  While the story shouldn’t be a substitute for the Christmas story of an immaculate birth, it can nevertheless provide a vehicle to share important facets of the Good News.  The life of Jesus provides a model life for Christians to follow.  While no one is praying at the altar of Santa (well, besides Macy’s), the story gives us a shared cultural reference to promote giving, joy, family and faith.  The farther we travel down the evolutionary road the farther from fact stories becomes until they are almost all fictional.  However, hopefully we retain the morals and values that we cherished.

Humans evolved into great story tellers.  Think about those Lascaux cave paintings in France compared to National Geographic TV.  Same fascination with wildlife, but richer image.  I think while the Santa stories moved away from the historical basis the best parts remained.  Merry Christmas!

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