Chadwick Elementary School students dragged cedar branches from the woods on Marie Day’s farm.

The best gift you can give your kids or grandkids for Christmas this year is not a smart phone, video games, expensive clothes, or toys. Those things break, they go out of style, or the kids outgrow them. 

The best gift is taking them fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, outdoor photographing, bird watching — should I go on? These things never wear out and will stay with them the rest of their lives. Hopefully, they pass them on to their kids and grandkids, and your gift just keeps on giving.

These activities forge bonds with kids and loosen the hold that inactivity and the likes of TV, video games, computers and smart phones have on their time. Kids take clues about what is good, right and desirable from mentors and family members. They need strong family ties in this messed up old world of today. The outdoors offers that. 

Take time to give a Christmas, ‘Thank you’

During this Christmas season, take time from the hustle and bustle of the season to give a simple thank you to our military men and women who are away from home serving their country so you can gather around the Christmas tree with your family.  

Those of us who love the great outdoors might not be able to enjoy the hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking and other outdoor things we love to do if it were not for the sacrifices of all the men and women who served and are serving. It was their gift to us.

The Day Before Christmas

It was the day before Christmas as I snuck through my house 

grabbing my fishing stuff as quiet as a mouse.


My fishing buddy was waiting as I closed the door with care, 

we were excited about the good time we would share.


My wife was nestled all snug in her bed

while a vision of a lunker danced in my head.


We got to the lake as the sun started to rise,

unloaded the boat and stared at the sky.


What a great day to catch a big mess of fish.

The good Lord had granted me my Christmas wish.


Away from the dock we flew like a flash,

we were both in a hurry to catch a big bass.


We tied to a tree and started to rig,

trying to decide on spinners or jig and pig.


When what to our wondering eyes should appear

but a bass boat pulled by eight reindeer.


The driver, dressed in red, was lively and quick;

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.


As we set there staring he made a great cast,

then let his bait settle and reeled it back fast.


When out of the deep the monster did come,

it swallowed the hook and started to run.


But the jolly old man had done this before

and he fought the fish until it couldn’t run anymore.


He won the battle and let out a big “Ho, Ho, Ho,”

then released the fish and told it to go.


He then turned to us and said, “Times a wastin’,

I would like to stay but I really must hasten.”


I heard him exclaim as he left on his mission,

“Merry Christmas to all and good luck fishin’!”

- Larry Whiteley 


“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 

― Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Larry Whiteley was born and raised in Nixa. He was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in honor of his over 40 years of communicating the great outdoors all over the world through his outdoor articles and radio shows.

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