“Awesome, this is awesome!!” Those were the words uttered by my 19 year old nephew when he opened his final gift of this evening. Up until that time he was probably figuring that the family gift givers were a little stingier than normal this year…but those thoughts were soon erased. Indeed, Neil’s final gift of this evening proved to be none other than my nephew’s very first gun. It was a special moment that both nephew and uncle alike will remember for a lifetime.
Rewind life about 25+ years and I recall how my “Christmas gun” came about. I was a bit more sneaky than most. I actually employed the heartstrings of two of my older cousins to work over my mother, of sorts. I knew that being a single mother she would not want her teenage son to have something as dangerous as a shotgun…but my cousins were able to convince her otherwise.
Indeed, my cousins Gary and Jim were both about 20 years older than me, so along with age they also carried with them the maturity to be a positive influence on my mother. I remember the very spot I was standing up near our barn shooting rock doves (pigeons) when I mumbled the powerful words. “Damn, I wish I owned a gun as nice as this” referring to Cousin Jim’s brand new Remington 1100. Those words set in motion a series of actions that eventually put a green Remington box under my Christmas tree back in the late ‘70s.
There’s just something more special about your first gun not being something that you purchase. More than most things, a gun passed from generation to generation carries with it memories that few other objects ever possess. An example is an old Winchester Model 97 I have safely locked in my gun cabinet. That was my father’s only shotgun…perhaps, to my knowledge…it might have been the only gun he ever owned during his lifetime. He bought the gun for $12 from his sister-in-law whose father owned it before that. Whenever I pull that gun from the cabinet I don’t just see an antique chuck of wood and metal…but I experience a flow of memories knowing just a small bit of the history of this fine firearm.
And that is how it should be. Of all the guns in my personal collection the ones with a bit of history behind them are the ones that bring me special satisfaction. That’s not to say that the guns I purchased new have any less importance to me personally, but they somehow lack a certain flavor to the user. Sort of like eating vanilla ice cream…in the end it is still satisfying, but knowing there could have been some chocolate or sprinkles on top could have made the offering even more enticing.
And so my nephew now has his first gun, a Remington 870 12 gauge with a synthetic stock. In my mind a perfect “first gun” for a sportsman who is just starting out enjoying the outdoors. The excitement on his face this evening made me reflect back to what my family must have seen oh so many Christmases ago when I opened that box I was hoping would be my first gun.
Over the years I have literally seen thousands of gifts opened by friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and kids alike. Certainly many of those gifts are deeply appreciated by the recipient giving the giver those warm feelings of having made the right buying decision. Still, I contend that there is NO OTHER GIFT that brings with it the deep meaning and appreciation as shown by the gift of a gun. Unless you’ve experienced it, either as a recipient or as a giver, you cannot understand truly how special this gift can be.
Here’s hoping that all the gifts you find under the tree this Christmas season are similarly special and meaningful to your life. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.