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Becoming Better

What a wonderful time to be alive! I know some of you may roll your eyes at that, but it's an exciting time for me.

With graduation just a few weeks away and more big changes happening at the same time, a brand new chapter in my life is about to begin. And that's what makes it an exciting time to be alive.

I want to share with you my ideology when it comes to wishing and dreaming.

I often find myself wondering what things could have been had I made different choices than the ones I've made. Reality brings me back with the realization that I can't change the past, but my choices I make now can influence the future.

There are many programs, books, and other works that have been written on goal setting and achieving, and even more opinions on the subject. My intent today isn’t to lay out steps you can follow, but rather my ideology on it and how it has impacted my life.

In my book, wishing is a hopeful desire. Perhaps, as I lay in bed, I wish for breakfast to be made. During class I may wish I didn’t have homework. I may wish the weather would be better. I may wish that someday I’ll be an amazing representative for Santa Claus and make a difference.

But without action, these hopes are empty. In the good book it says “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17). I can hope and wish all I want that breakfast will be made but without action on my part, breakfast remains unmade. I must get up, chop up potatoes, toss the bacon into the frying pan, start the toast and eggs, and continually oversee the task until it is done. One must do, not just wish.

Now we come to dreaming. There are some dreams that are unattainable no matter how hard we wish. A man cannot sprout wings nor drink the entirety of the sea on his own. And, forgive my boldness, unless the Lord desired one to do so these things would remain impossible.

But there are things we can do if our dreams are "attainable."

If I want breakfast, I wish for it. It becomes a livable dream once I do my part. The same can be applied to larger goals. The difficult part is breaking down the road to, or the steps of, reaching your desired destination. There have been many times in my life I wanted something so bad that I took the steps to make my wish a reality.

My father played guitar, but I don’t know how well. Many years after he’d passed away I saw a Beatles tribute band in concert (1964 the Tribute), and I was absolutely stunned. I had the privilege of seeing them twice more before the bug bit me when I was 13. I used my paper route money to buy a guitar and began teaching myself. I couldn’t afford lessons, and I still struggle with getting a guitar in tune perfectly, but I wanted to play Twist and Shout so badly that I pushed and pushed and pushed myself until I could play it.

A few more concerts and I wanted to perform in my own tribute band. Though we’re not currently playing, we had a swell get-up and made some good memories. We didn’t achieve local fame or any accolades, I funded the shows and bought all the gear. It was a wish to play in a tribute band, my dream was lived when I had done the hard work and found some other lads to come along for the ride.

For many years I thought being a Santa Claus was impossible, unattainable, improbable, and just plain unreachable. Since my first encounters with Santa Claus/Father Christmas I had wanted to have a sleigh and flying reindeer. I thought the best path was to find Santa Claus and have him teach me his ways. I wouldn’t push him off of the roof, but I did want to learn from him!

Every Santa I met I tested to see if he was the real one. Did he have a decent enough suit? Were his boots real? What did his beard look like? And there was only one Santa Claus who passed all the criteria. Sadly, I didn’t get to see him other than sitting on his knee. I waited for him after the line had ended, but as soon as he was there he was off again.

Traveling to the North Pole was out of the question, but perhaps I would find him during another Christmas event. For the next few seasons I attended as many Christmas programs and events as possible, but none of the Santas I saw lived up to the standard the man at the North Pole had set. There is a precedent of representing this toy-maker (those who think throwing on any suit and beard and think they’re doing the role justice are sorely misled).

So as the years went by, I forgot about wanting to become Santa Claus. Because I didn’t adapt my plan to achieve this wish, because I didn’t keep at my original plan, because my desire dwindled, that dream became unrealized for more than a decade.

Around the same time I was revamping my tribute band, I began remembering other dreams that I hadn’t achieved. It was then, with the full support of my loving companion, that I went forward and began my official journey as a representative of the man at the North Pole. I still couldn’t find any Santa who had professional standards in my area (I was now living in the same area my family had all those years ago) and I wanted to find that Santa Claus who had lived up to such standards. To my best knowledge he had passed away the year before and I was unable to thank him for his respect for the red suit.

Alone and without a mentor, but a few years older, I started searching out and learning for myself. I did my best with what I had and it paid off a few seasons later when I was asked to be the Santa Claus for my city, the public library, and for many many house visits with families I will always cherish. My 4 years in Rexburg, Idaho have been well used and I have learned a lot.

I have yet to realize my original wish of being Santa Claus. Though I have built a sleigh from scratch and used that in many visits, sewn my own suits, and worked hard to learn how to style and maintain a beard that contributes, not detracts, from my overall look, I don’t feel I’ve learned enough. I still don’t feel I do Santa Claus the justice I think he deserves. I’m still researching, networking, and setting milestones for the different goals I need to attain to make my childhood wish a livable dream.

I know I have many more years to become the Santa Claus I would have enjoyed visiting with when I was a kid. I use this goal/dream attitude in all aspects of my life. Instead of wishing someone would do the dishes, do the dishes and live that dream! (Not of doing the dishes, but of having the dishes done and the sink clean, etc.) If you see something that needs doing, something that you’d like to become, a skill you’d like to develop, something you’d like to create, start making plans now to reach that goal and turn that wish into a reality.

Live the dream.

Yours as always,

Santa Stuart

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