The Secret to Fearless Change

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If you want to change your direction
If your time of life is at hand
Well don’t be the rule be the exception
A good way to start is to stand

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
You mean that it’s just my election
To vote for a chance to be reborn

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Christmas for the Destitute

First, my disclaimer:  I’m not destitute.

However, I’m trying to spend Christmas acting like I am a pauper.

Why, with small children and beautiful-and-more-than-deserving wife, would I want to deprive my family of a bountiful holiday?

Before we get into the reasons for being a horrible grinch bent on depriving my children of their god-given right to rampant consumerism, let’s look at the Philosophy of Destitution.

The primary reason to pull back and tone it down is basic frugality.  Excessive anything is not frugal. I am training my children–and for that matter, my wife and my self–in the finer arts of personal responsibility and frugality.   Accumulating debt for a fleeting holiday is insane.  If we can’t afford to buy it, we certainly can’t afford to give it.   Anything else would be setting a bad example and children learn best by example.

Another piece of the Philosophy of Destitution(when I read this word, I hear a deep, booming voice in my head, like a 30s radio superhero voiceover)  is “green”.    I consider myself a conservationalist rather than an environmentalist, so don’t read too much into that color.  I try to be responsible, instead of destructive and I try to avoid being wasteful.  Toys that won’t be played with are wasteful. A garbage can full of packaging for those same toys costs money.  It is much cheaper to avoid the landfill here.

Back to “Why”. Why would I be willing to deprive my family?

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Giving Up The Magic

It’s a sad day when kids stop believing in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and fairies.

Nederlands: Sinterklaas tijdens het Het Feest ...

Nederlands: Sinterklaas tijdens het Het Feest van Sinterklaas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not because I enjoy lying to my kids, but because–on the day they stop believing–a piece of their innocence is lost.  An unforgettable, valuable part of childhood dies.

Believing in magic is a beautiful thing.

Do you remember the last time you looked around the world with a sense of wonder?  When seeing a puppy form in the clouds was a miracle?  When the idea of an ant carrying 1000 times its own weight was something worth watching?  When the impossible goodness of a fat man squeezing down your chimney fills you with hope instead of making you call 911?

Do I believe in Santa?

Of course not, but I believe the concept of Santa is worthy of my children’s belief.  I don’t want them to lose that innocence and wonder.

When my teenager was young, he asked if Santa was real.  I responded by asking what he thought.  When he told me he didn’t believe, I offered to let Santa know.  His panic told me he wasn’t ready to give up the magic.

The day that conversation didn’t cause a panic, he looked hurt, like he’d lost something precious.  He had.

His world of magic was gone.

The he asked why I had spent his lifetime lying to him.  I told him the truth.  I said I couldn’t bear to be the one to shatter his belief in magic before he was ready.

Then, I informed him that he was in on the conspiracy.  He was not allowed to ruin it for anyone else.  Not his sisters, not his friends.

That Christmas, my little boy helped me stuff stockings, which was an odd feeling.

The magic was over, but we still got to share the magic of his cousins and sisters.

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My Favorite Present

My favorite Christmas present this year was the one I gave to my 13 year old son.

Allow me to walk you through his evening….

First, he opened one of his presents.  It was just a small box, about 3 inches by 4.  A Japanese puzzle box.  Inside the box was a note that read:

Closed off in the smallest room you will find a clue to bring you closer to your prize.

When he checked the cabinet below the sink in our basement bathroom, he found another note that sent him to my business website one a page with a url that contained “the square of my children”.   When he eventually figured out that I meant their ages, not their quantity, he found a clue on my website.

This lead him to a section of his Minecraft server.  It’s effectively a no-man’s land because he and his friends set off a nuke and turned it into a giant pit.   They fall down and die there.   Inside the pit was a cave.  Inside the cave was a clue.  The clue read:

Grandma and Grandpa love you.

What do you do when someone says they love you?  You either get scared of the commitment and end a perfectly good relationship, or you say “I love you, too”.     When the kid finally called his grandparents to tell them he loves them, they told him to give his parents a kiss.

I’m a jerk.

He came over and gave me a hug and a kiss.  I handed him a piece of paper.   When he looked at it, he asked if it was supposed to be torn in half.  I reminded him that he has two parents, so Mom got a hug and a kiss, too.   The resulting clue read:

The Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

Naturally, this points to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but the boy hadn’t read far enough into the book to understand the reference, so he had to hit google.    After spending time looking for chapter 42, he finally thought to look at page 42, which had this clue:

My Little Pegasus

Two steps to the right

Two steps forward

Two steps up

This clue started at the My Little Pony I set next to a Pegasus in my daughters’ room.   The boy was in dense mode because he had to ask his sister what a Pegasus was.  She also had to suggest he open the closet door when one step forward made him bump his nose on it.

For all of that work, he got the Ticket to Ride game.  He laughed the entire way through the treasure hunt, then decided he hated the whole process.  However, for two nights running, he’s stopped the video games to play his new game with his family.

It’s a present he’ll remember forever.

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