However, the reality of my life come November each year, generally sweeps away all the holiday prep hopes with the sound of shotguns blasting away at gamebirds and clay targets in my own shared paradise named Joshua Creek Ranch. As much as I think I’d like to be decorating homemade cookies with grandchildren, I have to admit I love the hunting season at least as much, and possibly more, than the holiday season. I find myself postponing and procrastinating when it comes to fleshing out the details of how the decorations will be hung, how the table will be set, and toughest of all what gifts to acquire for the special people on our gift list. Honestly, I’d rather be playing hostess to our wonderful shooting clients than tending to those domestic responsibilities. So it’s often after Thanksgiving before the real panic sets in and I must at least focus on the gift list thing, even if I don’t do anything else in preparation for Christmas.
I’m generally the one who’s stuck with the task of thinking up what to give to family and friends on our gift list. The gift thing is really tough for me because I always want the gift to be something really special and desirable for each recipient. It’s not an easy decision in this era of too much stuff available, most of which is technologically over my head. But one thing I’ve found absolutely true: everyone I know loves to receive the gift of “an adventure.” And lucky me, I’m in the right business and place to deliver just such gifts…. like some rounds of sporting clays, an upland bird hunt, an Axis deer hunt, a Youth Program scholarship, a Texas Hill Country get-away weekend, and on and on.
The best part about giving someone the gift of “an adventure” is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It starts with opening the gift certificate on the special day, revealing the adventure it promises, and chattering with excited anticipation about when it will happen and what it will be like. Next comes the day(s) when the adventure is realized, when the exhilaration of the experience itself gets etched into memory. Then comes the almost equally enjoyable part of replaying that memory and reliving the adventure over and over in your mind.
My favorite “adventure gifts” have been the ones designed for shared adventures among family or friends, like the son who gave his elderly father a bird hunt for the two of them together. The value of that gift multiplied exponentially because of the shared experience, the bonding, and the lasting memory created. Both men described it as “sealing their life-long bond.”
Our family has had the good fortune to enjoy the gift of “shared adventures” many times and in many different places around the world. Even years later, our shared memories are the subject of frequent enthusiastic conversations about certain exhilarating, funny, scary, mesmerizing, sad, etc. details of our various adventures. It’s like receiving the gift all over again every time we talk about this trip or that one. As I think back about holiday seasons past and the gifts of Walkman tape players, portable CD players, four wheelers, ski clothes, fly rods and reels, rifles and shotguns, they’re all pretty much forgotten except for those rods and guns that went along on those memorable “adventure gifts.”
I’m glad I took this little trip down memory lane just now. It has me feeling better about the holiday season that’s right around the corner. It’s fun to plan and deliver the perfect “adventure gift” whether it’s for someone on my own gift list or someone on the gift list of a Joshua Creek Ranch client. But the best part is that the “adventure gift certificate” given for any special occasion, goes on giving even after the adventure itself occurs and the memories have been made.
Think about this: most of the people you care for enough to give a gift that’s meant to be special are the same people who would most enjoy the gift of time spent with you. A “shared adventure gift” could be a treasure to you both.