If you’ve got a spouse who likes to fish, get him a fishing license for the coming year. You don’t have to worry about getting the right size or color or line weight. One size fits all, and it’s a gift that can be used all year long. Every time I go fishing, I can thank my wife.
If you’ve got a loved one in law enforcement, how about a small box that is very heavy and feels like lead? Every shooter can always use more ammo.
Some traditions can be passed from one generation to another. In 1977, I bought my Dad a nice pocket knife and then spent several hours creating a specially wrapped box, which I made by cutting out fishing scenes from outdoor magazines and decorating every surface of the box with them. Dad was more delighted with the box than with the knife inside. The next year, I made another special fishing-scene box for Dad, but I was really surprised when I received a gift from him in the box I had given him the year before.
Every year thereafter, Dad and I would exchange our recycled boxes covered with leaping trout and sparkling waterfalls. We both knew what the box would contain, but somehow that wasn’t the point. Our dumb Christmas fishing boxes had become a tradition more important than any physical gift could ever be.
Dad has gone on to that big trout stream in the sky, but now I select a knife with care and wrap it in old newsprint from 1977 and place it in a gaudy box from the closet shelf that I’ve dusted off with care. Sometimes, I get a little teary-eyed trying to seal the recycled box, because it brings back of a flood memories of Dad and me fishing together. I buy my son a knife, in hopes we’ll use it fishing or hunting together. Life moves on, and an old tradition continues.
You can create your own gift-giving traditions. If your loved one is an artist, maybe some camel’s-hair brushes would be just perfect. A GPS unit could be great for a backpacker or four-wheel drive fanatic.
Most important of all is giving a gift that encourages you to spend time with your loved one. The backpacking trips my wife, Mary, and I made into remote alpine meadows are the stuff memories are made of, as are the hours my kids and I spent warming our hands around a campfire. As year pass and families and loved ones spread to the far corners of the world, your outdoor adventures stay with you forever.
May you have a blessed Christmas and much happiness in the years to come.
Until next time, tight lines.
• Don Moyer, author and outdoors columnist, began writing Tight Lines more than three decades ago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.