Out of the nest

Out of the nestI’m not very nostalgic.  Purging old stuff from my basement and garage is usually only difficult because of the work involved, not because of the sentimental value of the treasures buried in dust and cobwebs.

I don’t attach much emotion to things – which is good from a hording standpoint, but probably not when it comes to kids artwork.  I remember getting caught by one of my kids once when I threw out one of their masterpieces from Kindergarten.  They were mortified that I didn’t want to treasure every object they came in contact with.  I’m just not wired that way.

The same ideology applied to how I raised my kids – there was never a time that I sat up late at night, rocking one my precious, fevered little darlings back to sleep where I thought ‘I wish this feeling would never end’.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to see what great adventures were laid before us – what these smelly little diaper destroyers would eventually become.

I also wished I remembered what a full nights sleep felt like.

When we brought our first-born home from the hospital, I remember sitting in the living room after the whole birth ordeal, wondering ‘what do we do with him now?’.  For me, it was far more exciting to see what would happen next, than clinging to things past.

I guess I just associate more with the here and now, than the days gone by.  I’m pretty sure all the Facebook psychologists will have a field day with these thoughts.

I don’t want to suggest that I’m not the proudest Dad in the world at how they’ve turned out.  I am!  Heck, based on how I saw my parenting skills, I’m actually surprised that they beat the odds!  I guess my wife was the tipping point factor for them.

We’ve been dealing with our Son’s transition to adulthood for the past couple of years as he’s been living in another city while going to University. This fall, our daughter will be doing the same.

Our ground school lessons are over – now it’s time for the kids to fly.  Amazing, exciting times.

We’ve been frantically completing all her applications, payments, etc., with a mix of frustration and excitement for the past few months.  These are incredible times for her and for us.  It’s also been hectic enough that we haven’t (okay, I haven’t) really stopped to think about what this means.

Yesterday though, it hit me.

We were at the store, getting some kitchen supplies for her new home on campus.  As we filled the cart with dishes and tea towels, the sudden weight of what was coming hit me like a school bus.  Our baby will be leaving home.

It actually surprised me, feeling like I did.  Maybe it shouldn’t have, but there I was, staring down at this pile of independence; cutlery, dishes, a can opener.  I think it was the stupid can opener that got me.  That’s the clear sign that she’s leaving.  You can mentally quantify the other stuff, but a kitchen gadget like a can opener means they’ll be doing things on their own from now on.

Again, I’m not nostalgic, so I’m trying to think of all the upsides of not having a kid in the house.

No more checking in to see that she’s up in the morning, or cleaning up the kitchen after you’re pretty damn sure you cleaned it up before you went to bed last night.  No more of your stuff being moved from where you left it.

No more lights left on all night, or having to close the bedroom door because the ‘night owls’ don’t sleep like normal people do, and they wake you up with their stomping around all night.

We’ll be able to eat dinner where we want, when we want, and what we want.  We won’t have to think about anyone else (except the dog, of course).  GROCERY BILLS CUT IN HALF!

So, why am I so stuck on that stupid can opener?  Have I suddenly tapped the nostalgic emotion, hidden away all these years? Will I suddenly find myself digging through old pictures and trophies, recalling how I felt at the time, creating a shrine of what my kids used to be?

That can opener, I think, is a metaphor for where we are with our kids.  They will use the tools we’ve given them to leave the ‘can’ and set out to start their own lives.  It’s out of our hands now.  They’re turning the crank, not us.

Like I was almost 2 decades ago, anticipating what will come next, I’ll be cheering on my kids and underestimating just how awesome they’ll turn out, but those 2 decades left a legacy.  You can’t ignore how profoundly your life changed because of them.  For the better.

Maybe I am getting a bit nostalgic.  Maybe I’ll spend a little time looking through old pictures, remembering how I felt at the time.  Maybe that’s what I’ve learned from my kids.  That time we spent together, figuring out life as we went along, was the stuff of life.  Those crafts from Kindergarten weren’t just construction paper and glue – they were the milestones that I kept looking for – those ‘next great things’ that I couldn’t wait to see.

Sure, having the house to ourselves will be great in many ways, but I figure it’ll be about a week before we wish they were back home again.  Maybe the can opener won’t work, and we’ll have to swoop in and save her from her independence.

As much as I might wish that, I sure hope it doesn’t happen.  Leaving the nest is just another step for kids.  A painful, thrilling, sad, exhilaratingly huge step.

And I couldn’t be more proud.

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I’m really very charitable…really!

charityI refused to help homeless children, and I’m totally okay with it…..really….maybe.

Okay, let me qualify.  I do believe in giving back for those rich gifts that have been given to me.  I really do.  I’m all about paying it forward, sharing my time, talent and treasures – all that good sharing of God’s gifts kind of stuff.  Maybe not as much as I should, but I do what I can.

But there has to be a limit to saying ‘yes’ to every handout, right?  Those kids at the door with chocolate covered almonds, or the skip-a-thon, or whatever.  They’re endless!  You have to pick and choose carefully, or you’ll go broke and become one of the charities yourself.

It’s tough!  Guilt is a great motivator, and a lot of charities leverage it perfectly.  Send kids. How do you say ‘No’ to a little kid?  Add in some tasty treat that you’re craving, and you can’t resist it.  You reach into your pocket and hand them $5 bucks for a bland piece of candy you could have bought for $1.

So, you’re pressured to help others (guilt), add in some tasty treat (temptation), and sell it through the eyes of a cute, innocent little kid and you’re doomed!  It’s the trifecta of sales tactics.  You can’t resist it.  About the only other thing they could do is be holding a puppy at the time.

There’s a commercial out right now where a little girl is trying to sell donuts door-to-door.  donuts With a syrupy-sweet voice, she stands like Vanna White, showing off the doughy goodness while batting her cute little eyes and says; ‘Donuts?’.  The lady manages to resist the temptation, thanks to a low-calorie cereal bar….yeah, like that’ll work in real life.

My wife loves this commercial.  Not because of the product they’re selling, but she uses the same ‘Donuts?’ voice on me when she wants something or wants me to have a snack with her.  Apparently, it’s not bad to sneak a snack if someone else does it with you.

A few years ago, I was walking out of a store after buying some adult beverages for a dinner party we were hosting.  As usual, some kid had set up shop outside, and was hitting people up to buy a chocolate bar or something so he could do whatever he was trying to do – I don’t even remember what it was.  I said, ‘No thanks’, and walked away.  Just then, the little kid dropped his head down in rejection and muttered;

“I’ve been standing here all day and no one has bought one”….CRAP!

As I ate the stupid chocolate bar on the way home, I wondered if that was one of his lines to make a sale.  I may never know, but I gotta say that it was effective.

I decided a while ago that I would no longer succumb to the door-to-door pitch whenever possible, mostly because I think it’s a lousy way to get a kid to go on a school trip or pay for a hockey tournament.  I also did it because I have to, like most of us, watch my budget.

I have a couple of standard lines I use:  ‘sorry, I don’t have any cash on me right now’, or my favourite; ‘I have a nut allergy’, while standing recoiled behind the door like some vampire being shown garlic.

Usually, I don’t even answer the door any more.  How sad is that?

But you can’t escape them for long.  I was standing at the checkout at the grocery store the other day, with hundreds of dollars in extravagant items – steak, seafood, my favourite potato chips.  Even a decadent dessert that I clearly could live without,  and the cashier asked the dreaded question:

“Would you like to give $2 to help homeless children?”

What do you do?  How do you, standing there with an audience of shoppers silently judging your goodwill, put your foot down and refuse such dastardly trickery?

The ethical and social pressure is immense.  And no one wants to hear your excuses, either.  They just want you to pay up and get your groceries off the belt.

I didn’t have a need to say ‘yes’.  I should feel no guilt, no shame in deciding that what I do regularly is good enough, so I replied, quietly and with no eye contact, ‘Not today’.

So, why do I feel so guilty?  I even wrote this blog, trying to clear my conscience.

Please tell me that I’m not a bad person for not giving $2 to homeless children.  That sounds bad, doesn’t it?

Dads – Perfectly imperfect

dumb dadsSince the beginning of time, the male of the humanoid species have endeavored to achieve awesomeness.  Early man created tools of hunting, war, and fixing broken toasters.  They did this so they wouldn’t have to call on someone else to do what they had no business doing on their own.

Fiercely proud, even early man insisted on being the sole ‘go-to’ guy for his families needs.  Tracking wild game never included pulling over to ask a stranger for directions.  They’d rather die of starvation in a quarry than admit they lost the scent of the animal.  No, even our ancient ancestors had a keen sense of stubbornness.  It’s a wonder we ever made it this far!

Luckily, today’s Dad’s don’t often die in quarries looking for food for their families.  We still won’t ask for directions, though.  In fact, even with super high-tech satellite guidance systems, we’ll decide our route is better than the one on the Navigation system we payed hundreds of dollars for.

‘That stupid machine doesn’t know anything!’

Our hunting is usually limited to parking spots – another task that has it’s own weird science to it.  My SUV has retractable side mirrors.  I love this feature!  Because of this sweet little bit of modern technology, I can shoe-horn my gas guzzler into spots reserved for mopeds.  Opening the doors is a bit of a challenge, but hey – look how close we are to the mall entrance!

tight parkingOne thing today’s Dad’s share with our ancestors is the need to pass along life-skills to our kids. It’s this disposition that drives Dads to teach their offspring on how to survive. It’s a fundamental need, developed deep within ourselves as a pseudo immortality, ensuring the manly skills of our forefathers are passed along.  Strangely enough, this need has a blow-back effect, in that while we try to pass along life-saving skills and advice, those very lessons usually involve tasks that could, in themselves, have fatal consequences.

Take swimming lessons for example.  While few can argue about how learning to swim is a significant survival advantage, it also provides great health and recreational benefits.  Where it gets dicey, is in how Dads help us to develop that skill.  It would stand to reason that a parent would register their children for board certified lessons, in a supervised and well equipped swimming pool, that had been tested for cleanliness and life-saving equipment.  It would stand to reason….except for Dads!

That could take years, and cost hundreds of dollars.  Why?  How did we learn to swim?  Pushed off the dock in a semi-polluted pond with no life-saving equipment, ladder, or detailed dry lessons on how to kick your feet.  It was sink or swim, mister!  It built character, and possibly a paralyzing fear of H2O.

They were practical lessons.  We didn’t learn about power tools by taking a class in safety, followed by simulations and ‘role-playing’.  Dad would fire up the saw, hand us a piece of wood, and say ‘don’t cut off any fingers’.  Instant carpenter.  If you were successful, you had the run of the tool shed.  If you weren’t, well, you were learning to write with the other hand…and it was your fault.

Dads don’t live as long as Moms, statistically speaking, so we have limited time to do our data-dump of life knowledge.  Some things just need to be taught on the fly.  We don’t know when our number will be up.  Waiting for little Billy to decide if he wanted to learn a sport was a waste of time.  It was ‘Here – catch!’.

hit with ball…and if you didn’t?  Your fault.

There’s also some key differences in how Dads give advice from how Moms give the same advice.  A Mom might say, ‘Don’t do anything that we wouldn’t be proud of’.

A Dad, giving the same sage advice, would make one small change to that suggestion; ‘Don’t get caught doing anything that we wouldn’t be proud of’.

See the difference? Mom’s advice is absolute – no wiggle room.  Dads are more pragmatic than that.  They know you’re gonna do dumb stuff.  They just don’t want you to get caught doing it.  If you do, they have to make an example out of you, and that means repeating a lesson they already taught.  Dads HATE having to do things twice.  Any time a Dad can cut a corner on something, the better life is.

That probably explains this:

Dad cutting cornersEven fixing that toaster often had a unique and dangerous aspect to it.  If you’ve ever seen footage of a brain operation, the surgeon often has the patient awake, so they can be sure they’re snipping the part of the cortex that is causing the problem, and not the one that controls breathing.  Well, Dads tend to follow that same logic.

If the toaster is unplugged, how will you know if you’ve fixed it?  Common sense.  If it’s good enough for a brain surgeon, it’s good enough for Dad.

fixing toasterDads have a way of getting things done without those pesky instructions.  Sure, there’s the odd extra bolt left over, but the mental triumph over stupidly complicated directives more than makes up for the questionable safeness of said project.  This is what Dads teach us.  Sometimes you just have to throw away the script, wing it, and rely on your ancient instincts to guide you.  Trust in your gut.  Those thousands of years of evolutionary trial and error suggests that your gene pool is deeper than most, just by the fact that you’re alive and reading this.

It’s those shortcuts and bypasses that really are the fruit of living, aren’t they?  How boring life would be if we didn’t get the crap scared out of us once in a while.  Take the path less traveled – even if it’s less traveled because it leads to quicksand or some other potential catastrophe.  These are where our great memories are formed.

We all should thank our dangerous, spontaneous, and sometimes insensitive Dads this Father’s Day.  They keep the spark alive…sometimes with a knife in the toaster.

Swaying the vote

voteHere in Ontario, we’re facing a Spring election.

Further reinforcing my disdain for all things Spring, like the flowers, trees, and bugs, ugly orange, blue and red political signs will pop up on lawns and boulevards like some alien vegetation that can’t be killed off by spraying.

Friendly ‘How-dee-doo’ neighbours will throw down their rakes and garden tools and wrestle each other to the ground, swearing ‘Commie’ or ‘Capitalist Pig’ as they jockey and argue the finer points of Big Labour versus Big Business.  It’ll be epic!

Elections are nothing new in our democratic society, but here in the ‘Mid-Life Crisis’ household, everything will change.  This year, both of my darling offspring have reached the age of majority and will have the civic duty of casting a ballot for the first time ever.

Exciting times, you might say.  The youth of our society can finally hold the power of the future in their fresh, idealistic hands. This is their chance to right all the selfish wrongs of past generations.

Here’s the dilemma:  How do I stress the importance of having an independent voice in our democracy and ensure their issues are being addressed without nudging these malleable minds into my scarred and biased beliefs?

How do I convince them to make up their own minds about who to vote for if I keep holding up my enormous electricity bill and telling them that it’s all because of the current administration that we can’t have nice things at home?

Maybe the question isn’t how do I not sway them, but should I sway them to my (correct) way of thinking?  It’s a tough position to be in.

I truly want my kids to create their own opinions on these things, then at least I can argue their flawed thinking with a clear conscience.  If I just tell them how to vote, I might create a bunch of drones that haven’t put any effort into forming their own belief system.

Maybe that isn’t so bad – any vote is better than no vote, right?

Election results show that almost half of us don’t even bother casting a ballot. “I don’t know enough about it”, I’m sometimes told, or “All the candidates suck”.  True and true.

It’s hard to argue those points – election campaigns are filled with mud-slinging, double talk, half-truths, and vague promises that the average person can’t unpack enough to make an intelligent deduction about.

You might even say “It won’t make any difference”.  Well, it might not.  But one thing is true;  If nothing changes, then, well nothing changes.  That’s the only sure thing in this debate – you can guarantee that if a vote is not cast, things will stay the same, and you will fulfill the prophecy that it didn’t make a difference.

The same government bureaucracies, tax dollar waste, corruption, disconnection from the public, and shrinking economy will be the status quo.  That’s about the only sure thing to happen when the voting public turns an apathetic ear to elections.

It was the band Rush that sang: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”.  That choice is either ‘I’m happy with the way things are, and I believe that others will re-elect the incumbency’, or ‘I’m not happy with with the way things are, but I’m not suffering enough to take any action to change it’.

All the candidates have Facebook and twitter accounts.  They’re in the news and on the radio.  Check them out.  Maybe it’s a key issue you want to address, or maybe it’s the way they look or talk.  That’s for you to decide on.  Maybe they’re making claims that you should vet out to see if they’re valid.

If it comes down to it, and no one is a clear winner in your books, find the least awful candidate, hold your nose, and cast your ballot. Or, you might yawn and go back to watching ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’, like most of us do at election time.

Me?  I’m going to encourage my kids to form their own opinions on all of this, and do my best to get them involved with the political process that our prior generations fought for.  I can’t promise, though, that I won’t leave my electricity bill sitting out on the counter.

The Faceplant

facebook logoThey must be handing out parkas in Purgatory.  This week, I joined Facebook.  Yes, welcome me to 2004.

Social networking has been one of necessity rather than desire for the most part.  Joining the awesome and exposed world of Facebook was a frightening thought for a guy like me, who uses this blog site as a semi-anonymous way to share deep thoughts and feelings (okay, sometimes not-so-deep thoughts) without losing control.  This can make for a pretty lonely existence – no disrespect to my current group of followers, of course.

Baring one’s soul to the cyberworld is an intimidating venture when you can’t just take it back, so I’ve put it off with lame excuses and procrastination.

The trouble is, when you’re used to 2 soup cans with a string between them (the kids will have to look that reference up), eventually there isn’t anyone holding up the other can, and you just look foolish talking to yourself.

But hey, I’m a modern, tech-savvy kind of guy.  Just because there’s a little snow on the old roof, doesn’t mean there’s not a hip party happening in the living room, right?  I know how to set up a printer and scan for viruses on my computer. I can link multiple e-mail addresses to my iPhone.  I’m in touch with how my kids talk and act – I just don’t understand them.  Facebook should be a breeze, right?

I’m 2 days in with my new profile, and I think I’ve already broken a bunch of covenant rules – at least that’s the impression I get from my 2 teens.  Lessons on an open-forum interchange like this will probably all be learned the hard way.  I didn’t even know there were rules.  I guess etiquette is a better word than rules, really.

Like a new golfer, it’ll be others who ‘shush’ you while someone is teeing off that you’ll learn from, unfortunately.

Here’s some that I’ve already broken:

  • Don’t ever tag photos of people who don’t want to be tagged
  • Don’t ever reply to a post that’s more than a week old
  • Don’t fill out your ‘timeline’ unless you know what you’re doing – I have a highlight about leaving a job a year ago….not intentionally
  • Don’t ‘friend’ your kids’ friends – you’ll see things you just can’t take back
  • Always think through responses or comments on posts before you hit ‘enter’

I’m up to 50-something friends already – whoo hoo!  Trouble is, I don’t know what to say to anyone.  Do I start sharing ‘selfies’ and posting photos of my dog sleeping with her tongue hanging out?  Does anyone else really care about this stuff?

Do I need to ‘like’ every inspirational message?  Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

Is there an addictive component to Facebook that I should be aware of?  I find myself checking it every few minutes.  This can’t be healthy.

It’s a pretty steep learning curve I’m on, but as long as I don’t get ‘unfriended’ by everyone before I figure how to navigate this new world correctly, I’ll consider this deep dive into modern communication a successful experiment.  It can’t last that long anyway, right?

‘Like’ this post, or I’ll start sending pictures of me hitting the ‘refresh’ button over and over again…

 

 

 

…’With a little help from my friends’…

min·ion
ˈminyən/
noun
plural noun: minions
1.
a follower or underling of a powerful person, esp. a servile or unimportant one.
synonyms: underling, henchman, flunky, lackey, hanger-on, follower, servant, hireling, vassal, stooge, toady, sycophant;

I wish I’d thought of it years ago, but hindsight is 20/20 as they say.  I need some minions.  I need unquestioning followers who will do my bidding without reservation, complaint, or hesitation.

Imagine a world where all you had to do was ask, and whatever you requested would be granted; where obedient subjects blindly take all orders and execute them without delay.

Oh sure, I had kids who I could order around for a while, but eventually you see that look in their suspicious little faces, questioning simple requests;

“Go get Daddy another beer.”

“Hold this while I start up the chainsaw”

“Don’t tell Mom I broke it.  It’ll be our little secret.”

You know, the usual stuff. That’s when you know that they know something isn’t quite right with this symbiotic relationship, and your hope of having a permanent underling to do your dirty work is done.  They’re so ungrateful, those kids!

I have lots of friends…well, a few friends, but they’re all too smart to go along with any wild world domination plans I might have.  I need to wear dark sunglasses when I ask them to get me the necessary parts to make a death-ray.  They can see the crazy in my eyes which is a giveaway that I might not be quite right.

I’m too broke to hire a personal assistant, like they do in Hollywood.  That looks like a pretty sweet gig!  Imagine having someone walk the dog, pick up laundry, cook supper, clean the pool and massage your tired feet after a long day of shouting ridiculous orders at them.

I have a dog, who I guess would be a good minion since she has unwavering loyalty to me, except that it kind of works in reverse for us.  I feed her, carry her down the stairs, walk her, pick up after her, brush her fur….hmmm.

I might have looked at interns, but big business has ruined that sweet little free labour pool for the common man.

Even Dr. Frankenstein had Igor, but you could tell that the poor hunchback would shiv the bad doctor at his first chance, given the way he was treated.

The only thing left for guys like me are ‘minions’, but where do you start?  Is there a ‘Minion Mail Order’ website?  Where do these minions come from anyway?  How do you know that they’ll stupidly accommodate every insane request you make without hesitation?  Is there a vetting or interview process?

There’s lots I need to research, to be sure.

How many do I need?  Do I start with a half-dozen and see how things are going?  Do I have to give them names?  Maybe they all get the same name and somehow can just figure out who I’m talking to, kind of like George Foreman did.

What about feeding?  Do they need a special minion diet, and if so, do I get a minion to serve it to himself?

I know they’re all ‘him’s’ because no girl minion would be dumb enough to blindly follow me around all day.

What if they unionize? I’d hate for them to be carrying me over to the treadmill then stopping halfway because of a negotiated coffee break.  I’d be stuck there for 15 minutes!

Where do they sleep?  Do they sleep?

If one gets away, do I go after it like a lost sheep, or just call up my minion supplier and order a replacement?

Wow.  This is getting to be a lot of work!  Maybe this whole minion thing needs a rethink.  Maybe I should just depend on me to do my dastardly deeds.  At least I know I would do things exactly the way I wanted them done.

Maybe that’s the fatal flaw with minions.  The movies prove it.  Every time a super villain (not suggesting I want to be one) has minions do his dirty work, something goes wrong and they end up failing in their bid to blow up the moon or detach California from the rest of the continent.

I think villains should aim a little lower, at least to start.  Pretty sure that if you want to vaporize a planet, a lot of people are going to try to stop you, but if you wanted to take a shopping cart past the store parking lot, you might go unnoticed.

That’s a job even the simplest of minions could handle.

My insidious little plan?  Why do I really need minions?  I haven’t figured that one out yet, and it would spoil the surprise, but you have know that being the master of a bunch of mindless followers has it’s appeal.

Regardless, I’d start out small, maybe washing the car if the weather gets above freezing.

I won’t work them up to continental annihilation until I’m sure they can follow basic direction.  There’s nothing worse than commandeering every television station in the world to give the nations notice that if they don’t comply with my demands, I’ll blow up Iceland, only to find out that the minions forgot to plug in my death ray.

Or, maybe I just need to stop watching sci-fi reruns and go outside…it’s been a loooong winter!

Yeah, forget the minions.  I’m the only one who can do things my way.  I’ll be my own master, and serve my dog mindlessly.

P.S. – I tried to warn you about winter in my last blog, but nooo!  You all thought my little petition was a hoax, and now we’re stuck digging out of another lousy storm.  Well, you can’t complain if you didn’t vote.

The Red Suit Conspiracy – believing in Santa

WARNING:  THIS BLOG MAY MAKE FOR AN UNCOMFORTABLE CHAT IF LITTLE ONES READ IT.

As a kid, I was pretty gullible.  I tended to think that what anyone told me was the truth, otherwise, why would they say it?

I also spent a lot of time getting sucked in to things.  Maybe that’s why I hate gambling so much.  Not that I have a moral stance on it, but just because I’m lousy at it.

When you’re really little, like pre-school or Kindergarten aged, Santa is like God to you.  What an incredible being, who rides around at night in a sleigh being pulled by flying reindeer, leaving presents under the tree for every kid in the world. It’s no wonder kids run screaming from him at the mall.  He’s super human!

Of course, toddlers don’t think in practical terms.  We are told about Santa, we see the gifts, so therefore, Santa is real.  Simple.

As you get a bit older, you start to see some cracks in the Santa story, though.  Mostly, it’s from older kids laughing or beating up some poor sucker who blathered that they still believe.  Who wants that kind of Christmas gift?

I remember when I lost my ‘Christmas Virginity’.  It took a while, much like my rea…..never mind.  Anyway, it started out with little things like opening the gifts with Santa’s signature on them, then going to our cousins house to see similar Santa gifts with different hand writing on the presents.  That sure seemed odd.

Then there would be Christmas Eve when we were tucked not so neatly into our beds, and I’d hear what sounded like Mom and Dad stumbling down the stairs with something big.

I spent some serious time contemplating this dilemma.  I mean, on one hand, for every Christmas up to now, the manifestation of the great and powerful Santa was clearly evident.  Shopping malls had him on display, Christmas specials confirmed his existence, and our parents and older family members assured us that he was very real.  Then, as sure as the sun would come up, presents were littered around the tree.

Being the gullible kid I was, and knowing I was gullible, meant that I had to take serious stock of things.  I didn’t want to be that kid getting beat up in the school yard for believing – especially if it wasn’t true.

So, I weighed the evidence before me.  The gifts showed up as promised every year, with no trace of them in the house before I went to bed, and all the television, radio, and adult conversation said he was real.  It’s what I was raised to believe.

On the other hand, the idea that one man could circumnavigate the entire globe in one night flying around with magic reindeer, stopping at virtually every house on the planet, and little elves making cool toys like etch-a-sketch and rock-em-sock-em robots didn’t seem very likely.

So, it came down to one key factor.  Was the Santa story a magical truth or an elaborate hoax?  When faced with this at the age of 8 or 9, I decided that the only logical explanation was that he must exist, simply because I concluded that there was no way an entire adult world could support such an elaborate ruse for that long.  Not a chance!

I was happily resolved with my results until one day when I was playing at a friends house, and he said to me, “I don’t believe in Santa.  Do you?“.  Gulp!  The acid test.  Could I stand behind my conviction?

No!  Of course not.  I blurted out, unconvincingly, “No, I don’t either.

Just then, my friend’s mother walked in and scolded us for telling the secret when his little sister was just in the other room.

Wait a minute.  I was lying when I said that I didn’t believe.  Now, this lady unwittingly confirmed my worst fear.  Santa didn’t exist after all.

I was quietly heart-broken.  All those dumb adults really could keep the secret.  So much for logical deduction!

Through adolescence and early adulthood, I was wise and smug about Santa.  I would mentally criticize parents who tried to convince their kids that the jolly old elf was working hard up at the North Pole, so they’d better be nice…..or else!

That is, until I had kids of my own.

When you have children, your cynicism about things starts to soften.  You start to immerse yourself into their wonderful little fantasy worlds.  And along with that, you begin to rethink your stance on the whole Santa conspiracy.

I took a logical approach to Santa, just like I did when I was 8. Putting aside for a moment, just who Santa is, lets look at things:

  • He still comes late at night, delivering gifts to children – CHECK
  • He works all year in his ‘workshop’ so the kids will have gifts under the tree by Christmas – CHECK
  • He brings joy and amazement to little children on Christmas morning – CHECK

I think that if you put a few details aside, like the little reindeer, and the North Pole, Santa is every bit as real as us.  I think we, in our smug, all-knowing youth, had it completely wrong.  The little kids were right after all.

Santa does exist.  There is no conspiracy after all.

Great, old St. Nickolaus, the Bishop of Myra in Turkey who is said to have given gifts to children at the time, was only the first in a very long line.

Now, those honoured enough, and who have a hint of that childhood belief, work all year long in their own ‘workshops’ (office), along side the ‘elves’ (co-workers), and deliver gifts on that magical night to their little children.

What an awesome job to have.  Being Santa Claus. If all those parents slogging away all year, then standing in line at the mall don’t believe in Santa, they are as lost to the magic as any child who stops believing at an early age.

Let me stress that Christmas is NOT about giving and getting presents, or going into debt while burning through your credit limit at the mall.  Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  In that spirit, however, bringing joy to children seems like a pretty nice way to celebrate God’s love for us.

Don’t give up on Santa.  He’s real, and he’s in each of us.  The sleigh and red suit may be gone, but what he did, and what he represents is as real as ever.

Merry Christmas!