The best gifts of all are those in which you give of yourself. While it’s been reiterated countless times, the concept of giving of one’s self never really gets outdated While I’m admittedly biased, it seems to me that there are more opportunities for such giving if you enjoy the outdoors.
There are so many gifts that one can give which require only an expenditure of money, but the really great ones also require that you spend time with the recipient as he uses the gift. Those are the gifts that really matter. A perfect example is a gun, particularly a child’s first gun. When you give a 12- or 13-year-old kid that first single shot 22 or 20 gauge there is, or at the very least, ought to be, a requirement that you take the youngster afield and instruct him in its safe use, and also the common sense concepts.
If you’re thinking about buying a kid a gun, but aren’t going to be around to give him the proper guidance, then perhaps you’d better think again. Like most things in life, a gun can be a two-edged sword; it can be a source of family ties, education and communication that brings families closer together. A gun, if simply handed to a kid like any other toy, can bring senseless tragedy. The choice is yours, and I heartily recommend the former.
The situation is so very similar for lots of other items too. A dirt bike can be the best thing that ever happened to a kid if you go out riding with him, but it could lead to a lot of trouble and even serious injury or death if an inexperienced kid is just turned loose with no supervision. A simple thing like a pocket knife can be one of the world’s most useful gifts, or it also has the potential for trouble if the recipient isn’t mature enough or properly trained in its use. The ironic thing about giving gifts that will require an investment of your time is that the person who gets the most from the gift is the one who gives it.
Years ago, I used to belong to Big Brothers, and one Christmas I gave my little brother Billy, a fly rod. I taught Billy how to cast and how to tie his own flies, finally the day came when Billy caught his very first trout on his own rod with a fly he tied himself. He was so proud I thought he was going to bust his buttons. But I don’t think Billy even knew that I was even prouder of him than he was.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about giving, mostly at first, from my parents, but later on from people who became close friends because they gave of themselves to me.
People think about giving, especially at this time of year. If you want to give a gift this Christmas that will last longer than any other, give one that requires an investment of your own time, and you’ll have given a truly lifelong gift, a gift that truly matters.
Until next time, Tight Lines.
Don Moyer is a longtime Central Valley resident and avid outdoorsman. He contributes occasional columns.