Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Gift



     I hate to shop…I don’t care if it’s for groceries or a trip to the mall. I despise fighting the crowds, trying to find the right parking spot and then waiting behind someone at the checkout with a cart full of items in the 20 item or less line…and don’t even get me started on coupons! And, there’s the grand daddy of them all, Christmas shopping! That is the worst!

     I’m lucky I suppose…my kids are fairly easy to shop for, especially my son, so gift buying isn’t too bad. A trip to Bass Pro Shops or Dick’s Sporting Goods or the click of the mouse, enter my credit card on-line and “poof”, my Christmas shopping can be done. But sometimes, it seems a little hollow. Sure he likes an Xbox game or some new sort of hunting or fishing paraphernalia, but sometimes those sort of gifts lack the heartfelt spirit behind giving a gift…

     Last fall, I wanted to get him something different. Something from “me” and that’s when the idea hit ... “I’ll make him some hunting arrows”…I hadn’t made my own arrows for several years, so it would take me a little time to get back into the practice. I rummaged around in the hall closet and found a dozen cedar arrow shafts that had been collecting dust for years. I cut them down to length and tapered both ends to accept a nock and field tip. The shafts were sanded smooth with some fine grit paper and a once over with steel wool and I sealed them with stain left over from some long forgotten wood working project. I wanted these arrows to be special and to look “cool”, so I searched the internet and ordered the rest of my supplies that would give them just the right look. Neon green cresting wraps and bright green, barred feathers gave them a racy look and the vivid, white cock feather would make them easy to see in flight. One arrow at a time, it took me several evenings to get them finished at the dining room table, but once they were finally done, I was pleased with the outcome. I could only hope he would be as well, come Christmas morning.

     The gifts were unwrapped and the long, narrow arrow box was the last to be ripped into. His reaction was about what I had expected it to be…Video games are stiff competition for a dozen wooden arrows, but as the 3D archery season rolled around in January and on through the spring, the “green arrows” were put through their paces as he launched them over and over at the targets and I’d secretly stand behind him and smile…

     Archery season was finally here at last and both of us had been putting in hours in various hiding spots, hoping for a nice buck to come within range of our traditional bows. In my mind, my son still needs me by his side when he’s out in the woods, but the fact is, he is a very accomplished hunter and outdoorsman, even at his young age and he’s more than capable of bow hunting on his own.

   



 
      My cell phone rings and I see that it’s my son’s number calling me. At this hour in the evening, I know it can only mean one thing as I quickly answer…”Hello” barely leaves my lips as my son’s excited voice exclaims that he has just shot a nice buck with his recurve! We talk for a few moments and I ask too many questions as he explains the shot and all the pertinent details…An hour later, I meet up with him and some good friends to help take up the track. The boy leads the way and in short order, he finds traces of crimson on the ground and we follow the trail and it ends with him wrapping his hands around a fine buck’s antlers…Smiles all around and a hearty handshake to the 14 year old kid, throwing a large shadow in front of the flashlights. Then it dawns on me that the arrow used to take this beautiful animal is one that I had made for him and I realize that it’s me that has received the gift…