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The Gearboat Chronicles

Gifts not to give this holiday season

Welcome to the annual ‘Gearboat Chronicles Don’t-Give-These-Gifts Guide.’ Other sites will tell you how pleased your loved ones will be when presented with a scented candle. Here we spare you the awkward silence on Christmas morning of watching your mom tear wrapping paper from a parcel, then struggle for words because – really? You got me this?

Exhibit A: a handmade cribbage board. Fashioned from a piece of driftwood collected during a family vacation to the beach. Perfect, you say. It’s thoughtful, practical and says ‘I care.’

Note the ratty chunk of wood with irregular holes made by me. Next to it you see a somewhat more professional attempt made by my brother-in-law, who is a machinist by trade and cheated by knowing what he was doing and having a computer-driven drill press to make those precise lines. Very impressive, Chad. Looks real nice next to my piece of kindling with holes in it.

I made that driftwood cribbage board years ago, and did it freehand with a drill, so the holes tilt in various directions and it’s something of a challenge to put the little pins in there. My family plays a lot of cribbage. And they’re nice, so they pretend to like this thing – but the Gearboat Gift Guide cautions against handicrafts if you’re not that handy. Keep that in mind as you search for the perfect gift this season.

Next up: rocks. My Dad likes cool rocks so I found one this past rafting season on the Salmon River. The mouth of the Imnaha River where it meets the Snake is also prime rock collecting, if you need to dash out and find a special rock before Christmas.

But I caution you on rocks with hollow centers that have dirt inside, as mine did. I’d washed it, but not well enough I guess, because Dad tipped it up to appreciate the crystals inside and a pile of dirt spilled out on my Aunt Donna’s pristine white tablecloth.

So there you go. Think twice before giving the gift of crappy homemade cribbage boards or dirty rocks.

On the bright side, Dad and my little sister Jessica seemed quite pleased with the Winding Waters coffee mugs I presented them with last week for their birthdays. Went over real well. If someone on your gift list might like glancing at their travel mug and being reminded of that raft trip they took, give a shout to Winding Waters headquarters and I bet our elves can get one in the mail. Or a t-shirt, sweatshirt, puffy Patagonia jacket or hat. We don’t have scented candles yet. Maybe next year.