Or, “A Moron, On Christmas,” Whatever….
Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so many Christmases away—like far, far away—from home and family, and so often celebrated Christmas long after the 25th of December had come and gone, but I freely admit it: I’m kinda crazy about Christmas, and particularly about giving unusual and unconventional gifts. That works out just fine because so many of those on my Christmas list are sorta’ unusual and unconventional critters themselves….
For me, Christmas shopping is a year-round thing, and I usually have my gift list all made out, with many gifts already purchased and the others decided upon by late September. My habit of having a pen and a little leather holder fulla 3×5 cards on me at all times helps. As I see likely prospects, or hear someone casually comment on something they like or wish they had time or money for, I surreptitiously scribble notes on those 3x5s, heading the card “CGL” for Christmas Gift List. At end of day when I’m sorting To-Do’s from Info’s etcetera, the CGL’s go in their own file for action.
Nutz? Well, consider this: First, I never, ever have to fight my way through the wildebeest-like mobs of marauding shoppers who seem to have very little Christmas spirit in their hearts, just plastic in their tight little fists and savage determination to snatch whatever there’s only one left of on sale. Just one experience like that can put a huge dent in one’s Christmas sense of peace-on-earth and good-will-to-all, ya know?
Second, for me, it spreads good, warm Christmas thoughts throughout my year, and I have the wonderful benefit of secretly, sneakily thinking things like “Boy, is Rank Frank (or the Memsaab Helena, or VZ or Little Red or whomever) gonna be tickled on Christmas!” dang near all year. Listen, when times are kinda tough, being able to bust out those positive thoughts during less-than-pleasant episodes can be great for my morale.
Third, I spread the fiscal impact out over about 9 months rather than mercilessly ravaging my bank account over a coupla frenzied weeks. Personally, I think that’s when most well-intended but frustrated people wind up spending far more money than they intended or they can handle, for gifts they’re not really pleased with. If that has happened to you, you might wanta try the Crazy Connor Christmas technique.
Get Jiggy With It
Gifts, especially for the shooters and wilderness-wanderers on your list, don’t have to be things that fit neatly into a festively wrapped box.
Here’s one suggestion: If you don’t know a reputable gunsmith or armorer who offers “detail cleaning and inspection” services, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one. Now think about your shooting pals, family and friends. Who has a rifle, shotgun or handgun that you suspect hasn’t been armorer-cleaned and inspected in way too long? Get a quote on strippin’ it down to frame and lockworks, giving it the full deep-solvent-tank treatment, fouling removal et al and nit-pickin’ inspection, and arrange pre-payment or billing to you for the complete basic service.
The ’smith might find a worn part that needs replacement, springs that have lost their sproing! or some other suggestion for improvement. You could opt for the ’smith to call you first, so you could decide whether to cover some minor additional costs, or if he should call your giftee to discuss the situation and let them decide what to authorize. Weird gift? Not if you’re kinda weird to begin with and your giftee knows that. Is it a sincerely appreciated gift? Oh, yeah!
Another: A pal of mine was at the range with his old an’ trusty but worn-shiny 870, and he mentioned to a couple of the Rat Canyon range-rats that yeah, it sure needed refinishing, he keeps fightin’ to deny rust a beachhead on it, and he’d like to have it Parkerized, but blah-blah-time, blah-blah-always something else getting in front of that in line, yadda-yadda. I slunk away and made a CGL note. Guess what he opened on Christmas morning?
It was a gift-wrapped brick with a bow on it. On top of the brick was his “coupon” for a Parkerizing job. After thanking me profusely, he squinted at me and asked, “Seriously, Connor—who the heck even thinks of gifts like this?” I was truthful. “Uhh… Guys who appreciate your treasure-trove of stupid puns, your distinctive body odor and buzzard-breath, and your friendship, pal.” The look on his face was my Christmas gift.
A genuine military adjustable rear sight to replace the crummy commercial flip-sight on a pal’s M1 carbine; new tritium sights for another buddy’s rapidly-fading 15-year-old set; a pair of proper walnut grips marked exactly the same as another pal’s ancient cracked grips—all gifts that came as complete surprises. To me, they’re the very best kind of gifts, and gifts that show you notice things, and truly value your giftee; gifts that clearly aren’t knee-jerk pro forma presents.
Other Ho-Ho Stuff
When we both got our annual bills for range membership fees, another shootin’ buddy remarked like, “Dang it! It always comes the same month as my wife’s birthday and our anniversary, and now, our daughter’s tuition! Geez, that makes it tough!” I scratched a quick CGL. For Christmas, he got a really weirdly wrapped gift.
I found a wrecked and rusty tossed-out replica of a twin-engine airplane about 2 feet long with an 18-inch wingspan. Basically, I just taped gift-wrap paper right over it, so it was obviously airplane-shaped. I’ll bet he pondered that sittin’ under his Christmas tree! Inside the airplane was a rolled note: “Come next May, pardner, you’ll be getting your new range card and NO bill. You’re paid, dude. Merry Christmas!” Being “different” has an array of intangible benefits….
Is there a pay-by-the-hour indoor range nearby—and there’s someone on your list who more than once has opted out of a shooting session ’cause the bite came when their pockets contained more lint than coins? Consider pre-paying him or her some hours. Gift-wrap a punctured basketball and put the coupon inside with a note like, “Here’s the condition: You spend two of these hours at the range with me, and the burger and a beer afterward are on me.”
Check the Brass Mower in the Christmas Gift Guide in this issue. It’s a terrific gift for any shooter! Within a week of getting mine, I bought two for friends, one with recent back surgery and the other is getting to the age where he shouldn’t be bendin’ over pickin’ up brass. If you give one, pick up a 5-gallon plastic bucket for about 3 bucks at most home-improvement stores; they’ll need one anyway. Assemble the Brass Mower, put it basket-down in the bucket and wedge it in place with wads of paper and tape to keep the handle stickin’ straight up. Put the bucket into a square box that’s a fit for the bucket.
I had some Styrofoam blocks salvaged from packing material. One about 9 inches square got a hole poked in it and squoze down over the top of the handle. Then an empty paperboard gift-wrap roll was taped in place as a cross-member about 6 inches below the “head.” Two 4-inch Styrofoam blocks were added to its ends where “hands” would go. Wrap with a gaudy array of wrapping-paper scraps, and deliver carefully to your giftee—then chuckle an’ snort right up to December 25th.
I told you “crazy about Christmas,” didn’t I? Merry Christmas and God bless you all! Connor OUT
By John Connor