It seems like Christmas has crept up on me while I wasn't looking. I have some presents bought, but I still need to gather some more gifts. I must admit that I am in a quandary as to what to give my granddaughters, Lily and Brooke.

Lily is 12 and has become quite the ambitious young lady. She is involved in volleyball, basketball, soccer and equestrian activities. Lily is also learning to play the clarinet. She still likes to fish but has been too busy lately to spend much time on the water.

I have had my eye on several books that were recommended for tween girls and I think I just might pick up a couple of them for her, but I also was thinking that I could give her a day's guided fishing. Though Lily likes to fly fish, she also has discovered spin fishing can be a hoot. So perhaps I could pick up a few spinning lures for her.

Brooke is a real question mark for me. She is very studious, likes soccer, equestrian stuff, dog training, skating and dressing up. She would probably enjoy a book or two, but I don't know if she would like a day's fishing trip with me or not. Oh well, I had better get on the stick and come up with the perfect gift for her.

I have gotten my sons presents and feel pretty secure in that area. Though I'm buying them presents, I usually throw in a couple of items that I have made myself.

My son, James, has problems tying flies so I will probably tie some up for him.

Clint is a better fly tyer than me, so I won't bother tying flies for him, but maybe I can rustle up some batches of jam and jelly for him and my daughter-in-law, Stephanie. I had a pretty good picking of chokecherries, wild plums, crab apples, wild grapes and buffaloberries this year, so I could offer some variety. I know that the wild plum syrup and chokecherry syrup will surely top off a stack of pancakes, waffles or a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

I have friends and neighbors who always appreciate receiving jam and jelly, and I usually dole them out as soon as I make them so I don't have to wait for Christmas. It seems more neighborly to give out my creations early.

In years past I have given out certificates to friends and neighbors for services that I would do for them, such as shovel snow off their sidewalks, mow their lawn, or help them with their garden. I used to make a pie a month for my father-in-law, and since my pie crust recipe is for two pies, I would have a pie to eat, too.

I have a friend who has a tough time getting around so I have offered to take him to Christmas Mass on Christmas day. I am hoping that I can take him to Mass at least once a month this year.

In years past I have compiled a mini-recipe book for my favorite concoctions and have given the book to family and friends.

One of the best presents I ever received was from my son, Clint. He gave me a couple of days work around the house. I am not a handy man at all, so the repairs and construction he did sure came in handy.

When the granddaughters were younger we would give babysitting days so mom and dad could have a little free time alone. Those days were great for me because the girls and I usually made cookies and snacked on them while they were still warm.

I usually give to my good friend, Father Jim Heiser, a couple of days guided fishing and morel mushroom hunting on the Bighorn River. Those days turn out to be lots of fun and enable us to enjoy the fishing and the eating.

My mother used to knit me a ski hat that I would wear for the rest of the winter. Somewhere along the line Mom took up quilting and would present me with a beautiful creation that lasted many winters.

Looking back on my childhood, I remember that I had uncles who would take me ice fishing when my Dad couldn't get away. One uncle took me fishing for northern pike several times. He also would take me out hunting for pheasants and cottontail rabbits. They didn't make out Christmas gift cards for those treats, but they were wonderful gifts just the same.

I wish that people would maintain their Christmas spirit throughout the year. Giving generously shouldn't be limited to Christmas time. If each of us would make it a point to give of ourselves and talents to those in need each day what a wonderful world it would be. Christ is present at Christmas, and every other day of the year, so let's act accordingly.




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