Julie Carter is a New Mexico writer and author whose column appears weekly on Rio Grande Digital.
It’s that time of year when the cowboys are hanging out at the feed store shopping for their favorite cowgirl among the many choices offered.
As is for most things, gift shopping at the ranch is a pretty laid-back procedure. I’m not saying a lot of thought is not put into choosing the perfect gift, but “perfect” is subject to interpretation and you can almost always factor in functional and fundamental.
The gift that wins the tally of given most often from him to her is an axe. I know that will shock many of you that don’t live down dirt roads, but an axe is essential to the time of year the gift is given—Christmas and the middle of winter.
The axes have come single bit, double bit and often tied with a red bow the size of a pickup truck in an attempt to make it festively palatable. Some have come with a flashlight as an extra gift so wood or ice could be chopped in the dark. Often a note is attached saying, “I promise to keep this sharp for you.”
Another common feature for the ranch “him to her” gifts is the “who really wants or needs this?” Gloves that are too big for her and fit him perfectly are regular offerings under the Christmas tree as are new saddles although she rarely rides, horses she never will ride, and that absolutely stunning truck tool box that unfortunately won’t fit her SUV. A complete assortment of hand and powers tools also fit into this category.
Never to say the gifts aren’t truly appreciated one wife I know got a new cattle guard. It was to be placed where she had to open and close a gate 15 times a day coming and going. She would not have been happier if she had gotten big blue diamonds.
And for the little lady that is shopping for her cowboy — here is an abbreviated list of suggestions of what and what not to buy.
This year’s do not buy:
1. Anything made of polyester.
2. Designer socks or silk jockey shorts.
3. Tofu anything and white wine.
4. A sweater vest
5. A salad spinner
6. A George Foreman get all the fat off the meat grill
7. Complete set of Danielle Steele romance novels
8. Driving gloves
9. Self-help books on how to get in touch with your feminine side.
11. Beano—he won’t use it.
12. A manicure set with anything smaller than #9 wire pliers and a hoof rasp.
13. Line dance lessons
14. A gourmet cookbook
15. A set of instructions for anything
Sure-fire pleasers under the Christmas tree for the cowboy are:
1. Anything from the feed store.
2. Anything from the hardware store.
3. Make that vest a leather, canvas duck or nylon down-filled one.
4. Anything labeled Wrangler, Levi, Stetson, Tony Lama, Justin, or Carhart.
5. Cast iron — especially if it’s a skillet complete with the promise of a year’s supply of fried steak, potatoes, okra, bacon, eggs and even refried beans.
6. Tools that say “life time warranty, guaranteed forever”
7. A good pocket knife, made in the USA and a new whetstone
8. Lots of cammo and ammo
9. Pinto beans by the gunny sack full.
10. Cookbook called 101 ways to cook venison.
11. A book called “Teach your woman to run a trap line”
12. Heavy duty one-gazillion candle power spotlight for calving season
13. A gift basket full of Beanie Weenies, Spam, Vienna Sausages, beef jerky and huntin’ license good for anywhere to shoot anything.
Make it merry one, no matter what’s under the tree!
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at http://julie-carter.com/