A wind up caterpillar.
That was the only give my father ever remembered getting for Christmas.
It stuck in his memory in a powerful way, I believe both bringing a smile to his face and also sadness realizing his childhood wasn’t always the best it could be. I will never forget the time he told me that his Dad would never take him fishing.
Dad was about 10 years old and kept begging my grandfather to take him with him and one night he devised a plan. He tied a string from his toe to the front door so that when my grandfather opened the door, it would alert him and he might beg his way to the water. That morning my grandfather took my Dad fishing and it was probably his greatest childhood memory. He spoke of it often until he passed away two years ago Dec. 27.
Christmas is an important holiday as it gives us an opportunity to reflect both on the greatest gift ever given to mankind and on how we can bless others.
If you at this late point in the game still do not know what to give that young person in your life consider giving them your time in the great outdoors. Store bought gifts can be wonderful but they fade in time. The memories created on an outdoors expedition will never go away and they might even bring someone much needed hope.
Me and my wife Lisa operate a ministry called Kingdom Zoo: Wildlife Center and one of our outreaches is called “Wild Wishes” and it involves granting exotic animal encounters for children who have a terminal illness or who have lost a parent or a sibling.
We just granted our 50th “Wild Wish” and we have personally witnessed how the outdoors, particularly encountering wildlife can bring hope and healing to those emotionally wounded. In May 2016, I had the incredible honor and privilege of encountering a majestic white buffalo with three of our wish kids at YO Headquarters.
We were there to grant a giraffe encounter with one of the kids but after that amazing encounter we explored the ranch and the conversation turned to buffalo which we did not know existed on the ranch. A few minutes later a gigantic buffalo walks out and took our breath away.
Then behind it walked the white buffalo which is the most revered animal of all of the Native American plains tribes and is the rarest of the rare. It took our breath away. I ran into one of those boys last week and the first thing he brought up was the white buffalo. He will never forget that and neither will I.
I do not bring up this story to bring attention to us but to make a point. I know for a fact taking kids (and kids at heart) into the outdoors can be transformational.
Out of 50 kids in our program, 12 of them are because of parent suicides and last year I was impacted by two friends taking their lives. The holiday season is the worst time for that so pay special attention to those in your life who feel lost, disenfranchised or hopeless.
You never know what taking them out to catch redfish, hunt ducks or simply out to see animals can do for them. You might not only make a memory that lasts a lifetime but the fact you invested time in someone could be what makes someone feel like life is truly worth living.
Set time aside to spend it in the great outdoors with those you love and remember being with you it can be far more valuable than anything you can leave under the tree.
Chester Moore, Jr.