Column: The Greatest Christmas ever

photo

Courtesy of Brandon Butler

A much younger Brandon shows off a buck he took with his greatest
Christmas present ever, a used 20 gauge.

Can you answer the question, “What’s the greatest Christmas present you ever received?” I can. Here’s the tale of my greatest Christmas present ever.

I was my 14, and had asked for only one thing – a shotgun. My request wasn’t picky. Any shotgun would do, but I had to have one. I’d killed my first deer that year with a muzzleloader, and felt it was time to progress into a firearm capable of holding more than one round.

My brother and I had a little Christmas tradition of sneaking downstairs to go our packages in the middle of the night. This year, I could hardly wait because I knew there would be a long, rectangular box under the tree with my name on it. So full of excitement and bursting with confidence, I tip-toed past my parent’s room, and eased on down the stairs. As my brother started sorting our presents, I prepared for glory. But as the pile dwindled, it became evident there was no shotgun box. They couldn’t do this to me, I thought. I had to get a shotgun. I’d already told all my friends I was getting one. Finally, I came to grips with my sad reality and sulked back to bed.

With little to no excitement, I made my way down stairs for Christmas morning. I tried my hardest to fake some enthusiasm as I opened my other gifts. School shirts, dress pants, and books weren’t lightening my mood, though.

“What’s the matter?” my dad finally asked. “Didn’t you get everything you wanted?”

I can’t remember my exact response, but I probably just shrugged my shoulders.

“Here open this one,” he said, as he tossed me a tiny little package.

Jolted by hope, I tore the paper off. There in my hand was the most beautiful sight those young eyes had ever seen – a shotgun shell wrapped in a piece of paper. It was a clue that led to another shell and another clue. I had to follow a series of clues from one room to the next, until the last clue read, “Your Mom is sitting on it.” I basically threw my mother off the couch, ripped apart the cushions, and there it was; my new, used, Mossberg 20-gauge pump shotgun.

Once the morning had settled down, my dad and I took my new prized down the road to a farm field for some target shooting. It’s been quite a few years, but I can still feel the joy from firing the first shell through that gun. What a feeling it was, and what an awesome idea my dad had to trick me like that. His plan played out. He thoroughly enjoyed himself.

It feels good to give someone a gift they’ll cherish and remember. All too often, we just hand out gift cards and other senseless objects. The whole process of Christmas shopping has become ridiculous in my mind. Black Friday and all the other hyped up reasons to waste money rarely result in a meaningful exchange. With a little imagination, you can invent ways to touch someone with a gift they’ll remember. Hopefully you’ll put some heart into doing something special for those who matter to you this Christmas season.

See you down the trail…

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