If you've got a spouse who likes to fish, get him a fishing license for the coming year. You don't have to worry about getting the right size, or color or line weight. One size fits all, and it’s a gift they can use all year long. Every time I go fishing, I can think of my wife who has bought my fishing license. If you’ve got a loved one in law enforcement, how about a small box that is very heavy and feels like lead? Every shooter can always use more ammo. Flannel shirts are hard to beat, as are knives. Even if you’ve already got one, another warm shirt or another knife is always useful.
Some traditions can be passed from one generation to another. In 1977, I bought my dad a nice pocket knife and then spent several hours creating a specially wrapped box, which I made by cutting out fishing scenes from outdoor magazines. Dad was more delighted with the box than with the knife inside. The next year, I made another special fishing scene box for Dad, but was really surprised when I received a gift from him in the box I had given him the year before. Every year thereafter, Dad and I would exchange our recycled boxes covered with leaping trout, and sparkling waterfalls. We both knew what the box contained, but somehow that wasn't the point. Our dumb fishing Christmas boxes had become a tradition more important than any physical gift could ever be. Sometimes I got a little teary-eyed trying to seal the recycled box, because it brings back of a flood memories of Dad and I fishing together.
Dad has gone on to that big trout stream in the sky, but now I select a knife with care, and wrap it in old newsprint from 1977, and place it in a gaudy box from the closet shelf that I've dusted off with care. The difference now is that I buy a knife for my son, in hopes we’ll use it to go fishing or hunting together. Life moves on and an old tradition continues.
You can create your own gift giving traditions. If your loved one is an artist, maybe some camel hair brushes would be just perfect. Perhaps new binoculars might be just what your nature loving companion needs. A GPS unit might be great for your backpacker or 4wd fanatic.
Most importantly of all, is giving a gift that encourages you to spend time with your loved ones. The back packing trips my wife, Mary and I made into remote alpine meadows are the stuff memories are made of; as are the hours my kids and I spent warming our hands around a campfire. That is the glue that holds people together. As years pass, and families and loved ones spread to the far corners of the world, your outdoor adventures stay with you forever. May you have a blessed Christmas and much happiness in the years to come.