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That present under the tree
December 31, 2017

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So, as you are reading this, another Christmas has come and gone. I hope that it was a wonderful time that included time with family and friends or wonderful thoughts of past Christmases with family and friends who have now passed. During this time, I found myself thinking about past Christmas mornings. I shared this column 10 years ago. I thought I would share it again:

A Christmas that stands out is the year of the long, flat box underneath the tree. It was the year that I turned twelve. And I can't remember many years before or after where I made it so perfectly clear what I wanted for my present from my parents. The BB gun would no longer do.

Actually I had worn out two of those. The first was pretty worn when I had received it. It was a Red Ryder BB gun that my aunt gave me. (I know some of you have the movie A Christmas Story going around in your heads by now). It had been her son's gun as a boy. It had a compass and a sundial in the stock I wish I still had it today! But it had one problem. It wouldn't hold the BB in the gun. If you tipped the barrel down the BB would roll out. So I carried the gun around with my thumb over the end to keep that from happening. And without a safety, you know what was bound to happen one day the trigger got pulled with my thumb over the end and I can still remember how long that thumb stayed sore.

My next BB gun was a Daisy lever action. And I wore that one out, too. My Dad had said earlier that year that he thought I might be old enough to be thinking about a rifle soon. I think from the time he said those words that there was no other single thought that occupied more of my time. I would "drop hints" every chance I got. I was going to get a rifle for Christmas!

How many of you remember searching for your presents early? That year I did. I looked in the closets nothing there. I looked in the garage still nothing. When the opportunity finally came that neither of my parents were home, I could al long last check under their bed. And there it was. A long, flat box already wrapped.

But something didn't seem right. Was it long enough? I went to my room and got my BB gun. Downstairs I went to place it alongside the box. The BB gun was longer than the box! Something was terribly wrong. BB guns were not longer than rifles! No, it couldn't be. Hadn't I dropped enough hints? Had my always practical parents decided on something else? It was my name on the package. I was devastated.

The remaining days before Christmas were not very happy ones for me. I wasn't getting the rifle. I had searched and searched for that present to finally have that search end in disappointment.

Well, most of you have already figured out the ending. The morning came and I opened up the package. And I was greeted with the biggest surprise that I've ever had. The rifle needed to be assembled! I didn't know that. They are always assembled when they are behind the counter at the store. I learned how to shoot a rifle later that morning but I learned a few other things that day, too.

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