Dec
19

Last Minute (More or Less) Christmas Gifts

Last minute outdoor Christmas gifts? Hardly. You have almost a week. With all the gift opportunities of Paradise, that’s a lifetime, and cost is negotiable.

As you may recall, I like to start with a gift of time – truly focused time spent with youngsters or family outdoors getting ever more deeply connected to Mother Earth, and nature. The subject has been discussed at a couple holiday celebrations of late, as a number of us work to get our “Washington Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights” resolution before the State Legislature. In my view, such deep connections require conscious attention from each of us.

The whole business, for me of course, starts with E.O. Wilson, Richard Louv and Robert Michael Pyle. Harvard professor Wilson wrote “On Human Nature,” which won him a Pulitzer Prize a couple decades ago. He coined “biophilia,” to describe the innate desire of humans to connect with other life forms – a benefit individually and collectively. Louv wrote “Last Child in the Woods” and his work with “Nature-Deficit Disorder” has inspired kids’ outdoor bills of rights in more than a dozen states. Pyle – one of the nation’s premiere butterfly experts – has written extensively on the importance of a connection to nature, maintaining that losing a sense of belonging to nature (his “extinction of experience”) threatens us all and bodes ill for our future.

Pyle and several other writers note that this earth connection happens in some place – in our backyard or along a street or in a ditch or far back in some wilderness. It just has to be a place where there is some kind of “wildness.” Here in Paradise, we are surrounded by wildness.

So, here is my contribution to this conversation about outdoor connections and gifts of time; for the gift to change a kid’s outlook and for the connection to last, it must be given in JOY.

I learned that one four decades ago.

One warm 1970s afternoon in Denver, eleven-year-old Tim wanted ice cream. It seemed like a good day for a three mile hike; along the way, we studied clouds and plants and bugs and a dead cat and a soil horizon exposed in a road cut. We laughed and questioned and felt wonder. On the way home, we ate our ice cream and did it all again.

Months later, during a tough work week, I had a five-evening stretch of hauling Tim all over Denver to pick up scouting uniforms and paraphernalia. When he complained that we hadn’t spent any time together, I snapped that we’d spent every evening together all week. He looked at me for a long moment, confused. “Nahh… We haven’t spent any time together since we did that ice cream and bugs hike, dad.”

From then on, as part of each kid’s Christmas or birthday gift, I gave a block of time to be happily spent doing something the kid wanted to do – getting connected. They still talk about the times we spent joyfully doing their thing.

A truly memorable gift nearly always lives its life as somebody’s “favorite.” My sainted Tacoma grandma, for example, craved a particular type of chocolate. At gift‑giving times, Heaven help Grampa if that candy wasn’t in the pile. She’d gobble it up, then spend months savoring the experience, and showing Grampa her gratitude. On the other side of that equation, Grampa had a scarf he wore outdoors. He said Grandma made it the first hunting season they were together. Said he wore it on cold, early-1900s mornings down in Colorado, when he and his chums made a few bucks by blasting away at flocks of ducks and geese. The scarf looked that old, too, and he patted it every time it went around his neck. They shared a long and happy life.

Gifts designed to be disposable can be memorable also. An uncle gave me a box of .22 ammo every year – I couldn’t wait to open the package. One of my aunts always sent a folder of snelled hooks. Why not a phone-card, film for someone still in love with a great old film camera, or a tank of gas just for a Sunday drive or a camping or fishing trip?

Pick up a new National Forest map for the favorite area of your outdoor nut. Start a year‑round outdoor habit with the Washington State Wildlife Viewing Guide. “Bookmark” it with enough cash to cover the gas for the family to follow one of the unique wildlife trips.

I know of folks receiving new handguns for Christmas. If you know one of such giftees, why not add a lifetime of value to the gift? For top-notch training in the safety, care, handling and shooting of that new piece, contact NRA-certified handgun instructor Marilyn Mason at 509-962-3002 or Brothers N Arms (509-933-4867) and arrange some lessons.

There are treasures – in someone’s eyes – all over town. Remember that gift certificates from any place in Paradise will fit any last-minute gifting need and any recipient.

May you give, and receive, every gift with joy. Marry Christmas.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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