Time Together: the Ultimate Christmas Gift

A gift of time spent outdoors together is a gift that will not soon be forgotten. Photo by author

At this time each year most of us still face the daunting reality of having to shop for Christmas gifts. The older I get, the more upset I become over the exploitation of the holiday season. The reason for the season too often seems a distant afterthought to super-sales and excess greed, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Now, before you start comparing me to Scrooge, I actually love Christmas. Family gatherings, delicious feasts, old television shows and movies, and the music all warm my heart. And of course there is nothing like watching the face of a child light up when opening a special present and discovering their wish has come true. Christmas is a time of spiritual reflection and fondly reminiscing on memories of mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and others who made past Christmases special.

So when did the season become so out of control? When did human stampedes into stores to save twenty bucks on a piece of plastic with technological components become acceptable? Never in my book, and I assume many of you feel the same way.

Giving gifts can bring great joy if the gift you are giving is heartfelt and has meaning. Gifts should connect you with the person you’re giving to. Say you went fishing with your uncle and he broke a fishing rod on the trip. Giving him a new rod will not only replace what was lost, but will also take you both back to the time you spent together. To me, it’s the ‘I have to give so-and-so something’-mentality of Christmas that is the root of so much frustration. Nothing says ‘I don’t really know you’ or ‘I don’t want to expel the energy to actually think of something meaningful’ like giving a gift card. It’s like saying “Here; I had to give you something, now you can go figure it out yourself.”

If you, like me, find the greatest joys of Christmas in reconnecting with those you care for, then why not use gift giving to create similar experiences throughout the year. Here are a few ideas for you consider as Christmas gifts that can bring your family and friends together in 2017.

Houseboat Adventure
For people who like both camping and fishing, there is nothing like a houseboat trip. It’s like you’re in a camper on the water. Houseboats come in different sizes, so you can rent one to fit your needs. You can easily fit three families on a houseboat. You can knock out the gifts for two couples and their kids by booking a houseboat for a few days. To ensure the timing works for everyone, just pay a reservation fee and work with the people you’re taking on exactly when you go. When summer rolls around, and you’re sitting on the top deck of the Houseboat relaxing and the kids are swimming, you’ll be a gift-giving hero. For a close to home trip, explore houseboat options on Patoka Lake. For a distant houseboat adventure, consider Bull Shoals in Arkansas.

State Park Cabin
Indiana is home to some of the finest state parks in the country, and many of them have very nice cabins for rent. Book a cabin for a weekend and give the gift of time spent together in the outdoors. Brown County State Park is one of the top destinations I’d recommend. You can expand on the gift by giving specific individuals adventures you know they’ll appreciate. Maybe there’s a young girl in your life who loves horses, but has never ridden one. Book a couple of hours long trail ride with the stables in the park. Or, if there’s someone in your crew who has never experienced the serenity of floating a stream, reserve a couple of canoes from a local livery.

Guided Fishing Trip
Is there someone special in your life who took you fishing when you were a kid? If so, wouldn’t it be cool to take them on a fishing adventure? Not only are you saying I remember what you did for me and appreciate it very much, you are also saying to them I still want to spend time with you creating new memories doing something we both enjoy. Two exciting trips I recommend are fishing Lake Michigan with Brother Nature Charters or steelhead fishing Michigan’s Pere Marquette River with Indigo Guide Service.

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Brandon Butler

Long-time outdoor writer and native Hoosier Brandon Butler lives in Missouri and serves as the Executive Director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Previously, he worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as Governor Mitch Daniels’ liaison to the department, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dominator365 and as the Marketing Manager Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.

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