I only have a few distinct memories of Christmas as a kid. I didn't have a remarkable childhood like the kid in a "Christmas Story." There were a lot of us, so nothing extra ordinary was really given. But each year, something that my mom made for each of us was there on Christmas morning. I remember unwrapping paisley pajamas one year that she had made.
This year I wanted to add a memory to Number One and Number Two sons.
I told them that I had two similar items for them, neither of which had a tremendous monetary value. Item One was of more use (I told them I would not use it) and Item Two had more of a story. I asked them to agree with each other who would get each item and that they had 15 minutes to tell me their decision. I waited in the kitchen.
It took less than a minute when Number One announced I gave them too much time. Knowing that Number One can be a little bossy, I asked both if this was a mutual decision. It was.
I retrieved two old 12ga Champion shotguns that were once owned by my grandfather. I handed one to each according to their choice.
These were two of four that he had owned and had possessed when he passed away. One for each of his grandsons. He died over thirty years ago and my uncle took possession of them intending to give them out accordingly. He passed away 7 years ago and my cousins found them and after traveling a bit the obligation was fulfilled. Seeing that I only had one gun and two sons, my brother gave me his inherited shotgun a few years ago so that each of my boys would have one. (He has no children and is not looking to have any.)
One Champion is in pretty good shape for being around for these many years and is in shootable shape although I would never fire a shell through it. I thought I might just to inaugurate it, but I could never do it. Number Two son chose this one.
Both had been used by my grandfather and my dad shot each, but the second Champion had the story. Number One son chose it. He valued the story behind it.
Dad was by for a visit when Grandpa decided he wanted to shoot ducks on the farm. Dad had his hunting license at the time and ducks were in season, so he agreed although that wasn't his intent for the visit. Grandpa handed one of his shotguns to Dad and they walked out to the pond to find their winged targets and fired off a round each. Grandpa got his duck while Dad didn't quite get what he expected.
Dad was standing there holding onto the butt stock and housing while the barrel and forearm flew off in different directions. Being resourceful, my grandpa pulled out a roll of electrical tape and taped the barrel and forearm together so they could continue to hunt. Dad declined. This shotgun, with grandpa's electrical tape still wrapped around forearm and barrel, was given to Number One son.
Those who are purists among us would say that leaving the tape on there is a bad idea. But I think it ruins the value. The value of the story behind the gun. Its pitted barrel and chipped stock isn't worth much on the market and restoring it would make it worth less for me.
The story is what makes it valuable. But he and I may work on it together and replace what parts that are needed. Maybe add to the story.
But one part of the story was never passed on to me. I was never told if Dad shot a duck that day.
But thinking now that Number Two may have been shorted some value, maybe I will make up a few light loads and take his Champion out with him and we can fire off a couple of rounds.
I need to remember to bring along a roll of electrical tape just in case.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.