A Christmas Story

While wrapping Christmas gifts last evening I thought about the reason behind holiday present giving which, for many of us, includes last minute, frantic, crowded shopping and which, for me at least, sometimes generates some un-Christmas like thoughts about my fellow shoppers.

Blame it on magi, the original gift bearers.

We know very little about these guys although thanks to the gospel writer Matthew they are etched in Christian and Christmas history. Magi are introduced in Matthew chapter 2, verse 1 with a simple statement of fact: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem . . . ”

Following some political maneuvering and underhanded planning by Herod, the king sent the magi on their way to Bethlehem where, after “coming into the house,” they found the Child, fell down and worshipped Him then opened their treasures and presented their presents. Mathew mentions three gifts. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. There could have been others, of course.

Magi gained commercial fame following the penning and publication of the Christmas carol “We Three Kings” in 1857. You probably know the song, which opens with the catchy lines: “We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar . . . “

It remains one of the most popular Christmas songs but takes some liberties with the Biblical facts.

The precise number of magi is unknown. There was more than one because Matthew records magi telling Herod, “. . . we saw His star in the east and have come to worship him.” Christian tradition assumes there were three magi because three gifts are listed. They almost certainly were not kings. They likely were men of prominent class standing.

However, they are not remembered for who they were or where they were from or the gifts they presented, but for seeking and honoring the Christ. The gifts shadow that.

Read the story and decide for yourself. Matthew 2: 1-12.

Tent review: Hyperlite UltaMid 2

I recently had a camping story published in USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/advice/2021/08/30/camping-why-fall-best-time-go-and-where-pitch-tent/5620831001/. A few readers have asked about tents. I use several. But if you’re looking for a lightweight, dry and darn near indestructible tent the Hyperlite UltaMid (available in two sizes) would be a good choice.

Hyperlite UltaMid 2 with insert.

Here’s what you need to know about it:

The Hyperlight Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 tent https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/collections/ultralight-backpacking-shelters-tents/products/ultamid-2-ultralight-pyramid-tent and UltaMid 2 Insert with floor https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/collections/ultralight-backpacking-shelters-tents/products/ultamid-2-insert-with-dcf11-floor weighs less than a Sunday print edition of the New York Times. That’s a big deal if you’re backpacking but the rig also works well for car campers.

The UltaMid 2 is a pyramid-style tent made of a Dyneema composite fabric. This stuff is superlight (the tent weighs 1.17 pounds) and tough. A knife could pierce it. But it would be almost impossible to tear by hand. It’s touted on the Hyperlight website as “100% waterproof.” That’s a bold claim but after a 36-hour backyard test including nearly 12 hours of rain (steady rainfall with little to no wind) the tent and its contents remained dry.

The insert is made of No-See-Um mesh and a DCF11 Dyneema floor, which has a double tough feel to it. Set up takes a little practice but is simple and quick once you do it a few times. The tent can be used without the insert.

The UltaMid 2 has a 6-11 x 8×11 footprint. The center height is 64 inches. Trekking poles can be used for the center pole (you’ll need the UltaMid pole straps; $15 pair). The company also offers a collapsible carbon fiber tent pole ($100). You’ll need stakes, too. A Hyperlite stake kit, which, like the rest of the company’s gear, are super lightweight, costs $30. Campers can also cut their own tent stakes (and/or center pole), of course, or anchor the rig with rocks.

Of the 45 or so million campers in the United States, the majority are tent campers. If that’s you, Hyperlite is worth a look. It’s good gear, but it doesn’t come cheap. The UltaMid 2, available in white or green, starts at $735 (the green model is $800). The full size insert with floor is $405. More at https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com.