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The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

By Jon Osborn, (as it appeared in Backcountry Journal)

Christmas Eve found our extended family gathered around the dining-room table for a

traditional holiday supper. As a politically diverse group, we avoid discussing world affairs and upcoming elections, which opens the floor to other topics. While the scalloped potatoes were making a second orbit, someone posed the question:

“What was your favorite childhood Christmas gift?”

At first, silence filled the room, but eventually my younger brother kicked the ball into

motion, reliving his joy as he unwrapped a Millennium Falcon toy during the height of the

original Star Wars craze. Inspired by his exuberance, my kids rehashed a more recent

Christmas morning when Santa brought scooters, turning our main floor into an impromptu


Next came my turn. The question seemed simple enough. A Christmas Story had been

playing nonstop the last few days, so the boy-gets-BB-gun plotline was fresh in my mind. I

began flipping through a mental Rolodex of gifted rifles and shotguns. Like Ralphie, an iconic Daisy Red Ryder had come first, followed by a battery of others. But which qualified as the one?

Taking a contemplative sip of Pinot Noir, my mind drifted back to the 1980s. Reagan

was president, the space program was in full swing, and movies like Red Dawn, Back to the