Cody native Shelley Simonton, while volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer, makes this observation: “Those who appear to have the least, ALWAYS find spare change or a shaggy dollar to put in the bucket.”
Her Facebook post caught my attention as I was doing research for my annual column about “the perfect Wyoming Christmas gift.”
It sometimes takes a lot of years before people truly learn that “giving” makes you feel a lot better than “receiving.
An example: for the past two decades-plus, my wife Nancy has headed up the local Christmas Food Basket drive. What a pleasure it is to be involved in a project where more than 300 huge baskets are distributed. But amid the good feelings of rounding up food and toys (plus raising the money to pay for it), is the grim reality that so many families would have a very empty Christmas without this program.
Lots of folks make generous donations in the name of passed on relatives. Whole families get involved in stuffing the baskets and the local Elks Club often features teams of three generations of folks delivering the baskets.
There are charities like this all over Wyoming at Christmas and what a wonderful gesture it is to make “giving” to those less fortunate than us, our main focus.
And one final thought on this . . . often, our most important gift is our time. Spending time with folks who are going through a tough spell and listening to them (I mean, really listening to them), sometimes is the best gift of all.
A person in distress can be really needy at Christmas and not need any financial gifts just friendship and compassion.
However, this column also deals with the commercial side of Christmas. So here are some ideas from my friends of what might make great gifts this holiday:
New books by Wyoming-oriented authors include Stephen Horn of Cheyenne (Another Man’s Life) or long-time AP writer Joe McGowan’s life story (From Fidel Castro to Mother Theresa). Anything by Craig Johnson, C. J. Box, Candy Moulton or Cat Urbigkit would be fantastic, too.
Probably ought to plug Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders, which has already sold 4,000 copies this season, both retail and wholesale. Might suggest shoppers buy individual photo prints from the champion photographers featured in that book.
Karl Brauneis says: “...a couple books I have read over the last year that are a must: Bob Fudge - Texas Trail Driver / Montana - Wyoming Cowboy / 1862-1933 by Jim Russell of Buffalo. The book is available in its 4th printing. “Also, if you can get a copy through a used book store or the Internet, read; First White Woman in the Bighorn Basin by Paul Freson.
Dave Langerman reminds me to mention his outdoor survivor book called Life In The Wild versus the Alternative (lots of good hints that could save your life). UW Prof Phil Roberts says copies of the sixth edition of the invaluable Wyoming Almanac, produced by him and his two brothers are limited but still available. Mary Ann Hoyt has a new cookbook out, just in time for Christmas.
And finally, my family says I am impossible to buy for. Thus, I am including some tips for last minute shopping for Wyoming men, compiled by my friend, Aggie Smith. These suggestions sound suspiciously like a Dave Barry column, though, she contends it was anonymously sent to her through the Internet:
• The best gift of all is a cordless drill. It does not matter if he already has one. Aggie has a friend who owns eight. As a Wyoming man, you can never have too many drills.
• You can buy men new remote controls to replace the ones they have worn out. If you have a lot of money buy your man a big-screen TV with the little picture in the corner. Watch him go wild as he flips, and flips, and flips.
• Buy men label makers. Almost as good as drills. Within a couple of weeks there will be labels everywhere. "Socks. Shorts. Cups. Saucers. Door. Lock. Sink."
• Men enjoy danger. That's why they never cook - but they will barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank. Tell him the gas line leaks. "Oh the thrill! The challenge!”
So there you have it, Aggie’s rules for buying gifts for Wyoming men. Have a wonderful Merry Christmas, everyone