While it’s been reiterated countless times, the concept of giving of one’s self never really gets outdated While I’m admittedly biased, it seems to me that there are more opportunities for such giving if you enjoy the outdoors.
A few years ago an ad on TV caught my attention as being one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It’s an ad for those four wheel ATV’s in which a father’s voice tells how all he used to see of his son was the back of his head in front of the TV and how all the son saw of his dad was the top of his head protruding from behind the newspaper. The father goes on to say that ever since they got a pair of those wonderful ATV’s, both father and son have gone out riding almost every weekend. All the while, you are seeing exciting scenes of the father and son climbing hills, splashing through creeks and racing through the woods. The dad concludes that he doesn’t think his son really knows much about a generation gap, and come to think of it, neither does he. It was an absolutely great ad.
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. While you’re there you can also discuss common sense concepts like never killing more than he can eat, or why we shouldn’t shoot hen pheasants.
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 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.
This past summer I took my grandson and his dad out shooting. We had a great time plinking tin cans and discussing the constant need for safety. It was a delightful experience for all of us and the little guy is itching to go out shooting tin cans with his dad and grandpa again.
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. One such friend was Okla Primm. Oak and I would go out to cut wood together and more often than not, he’d say “I’ve got more wood than I need at home lad, why don’t you take this load.” Sometimes we’d be coming back into town with a truckload of firewood and Oak would ask “Lad, you wouldn’t mind if we stop by Widow Smith’s house and give her this load of ours would you?” He’d give me a camp stove he said he no longer needed and then suggested we go up in the mountains camping so he could show me how to use it.
Yes indeed, I learned an awful lot about giving from my parents and folks like Okla Primm. They’re gone now, but hopefully I can pass on some of their values which they passed to me. Memorials of granite and marble are all fine and dandy but for my money the best kind of all are the ones that live on in the hearts of those whom we’ve given to. People think about giving especially at this time of year, but once you get into the habit, it’s a tough one to break. 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.