A person with a strong imagination will never want for entertainment.

Christmas came and went this week. If your house was like ours over the years, I'll bet toys and entertainment items dominated gifts.

Even this year, the mention of a new microwave gave way to a Blu Ray DVD player.

But as always, the best memories come from the entertainment we create for one another, not from toys connected to a cable-TV/Internet/satellite wire.

A few weeks ago, our little grandson, John, who is less than a year old, was on my lap and I decided to exercise a favorite trait of the Zellers side of the family - story telling.

I began to tell him stories about boys named John, including John the Baptist and a story made up on the spot about a boy named John who went for a walk and used his knife to cut saplings for protection against an unexpected rain.

Our infant John had little patience and 10 minutes were enough for him to sit through before he wanted to be put on the floor so he could crawl places and see what his older sisters were up to.

That story-telling session brought back pleasant memories of my mother telling me stories when I was little and the family stories my uncle Raleigh and older cousin, Glen Junior, told me years later.

I was very thin and sickly as a child.

I suspect it had more to do with my parents' love of tobacco and the resulting second-hand smoke than any physical weakness.

Nevertheless, during those long days home from school, I learned to amuse myself with made up stories and songs.

Now the only problem with an active imagination is that one has to exercise mental discipline to separate fact from fiction. It is all too easy to imagine the world as we fear it is or as we want it to be than "the way it is," as Walter Cronkite used to put it.

Too many people today are jumping to conclusions about our future as a country -- or the world, for that matter.

I have no one subject in mind. Just the fact that our nation is divided far more than at any time in my memory is enough to suggest my conclusion is true: Our suspicions are leading us to think about how we are different than how we can be united.

I try to apply the Rotarians' Four Way Test to "the things I think, say and do:" Is it true? Is it fair? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

An active imagination can be very entertaining but a solid application of the test, "is it true?" would go a long way to solving the negative mistrust and cynicism in the world about us.

Frank Phillips is a retail advertising account representative for The Paper and has spent 18 years watching and reporting local events in Montgomery County and Central Indiana.