The Holiday season is really something to behold. On one hand we look forward to time spent with family, to traditional meals, to parties, giving gifts and all the rest. In the other, we can find ourselves dreading the mere concept of all of it. When examined in it's entirety, it's a full load and complex in many ways.
Much like a day on the river, surviving the Holiday Season requires strategy - with careful thought and an awareness of our surroundings, we can simplify our tactics and mindset allowing us to focus on the task at hand. For example, when an angler spots a pod of rising fish, it's common to let emotion take over. Instead of picking one fish from the group and making each move count, it's all too easy to try to catch them all at the same time. Water boils, knots break, women and children run for cover - this approach doesn't work. Think of Holiday planning in the same manner - keep it simple. Seems I have to relearn this lesson every year.
Just yesterday, I put a basic, surefire plan to work. A simple list, two big stores - my holiday shopping would be licked in no time and everyone would be happy. First, I planned an early start to the day understanding that most consumers would be at work or in bed. Charlie and I went to Costco - needing survival supplies such as sugar, flour, milk and bread and a bag of 96 rolls. Apparently no one was at work or asleep. Most of Bozeman was there and all of the honey baked hams were gone. Not good. I was forced to visit several more stores - each time purchasing more items I had not planned on. And still no ham. Seems the bone-in style is not cool anymore. And, since whoever works the hams took the time to remove the bone, the price is now twice what it used to be. So we'll be eating elk on Christmas eve which is better anyway.
Now 2:00 with little chance of accomplishing much more, I decided to make my last move, one surely destined to put a nail in the coffin of my remaining Christmas shopping. It was off to Kmart for serious shopping. This store, because it sucks, was virtually empty. Still, with everything from auto parts and garden supplies to candy, cooking and sporting goods, it appears the perfect place to find gifts for even the most discerning on the list. I found a great selection of ice fishing jigs that I needed and some Season Salt that I'll use on fried potatoes. Found nothing else that I, or anyone else, needed there. After several more useless stops, I was home, exhausted with little to show. My strategy had failed me - a day that could have been spent shooting ducks had been frittered away in the quest for ham.
Once again, it's back to the basics -I will be tying flies for everyone's gift and serving up venison as the main course. Guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Basics, Simplicity - this works and let's us focus on what's really important. Good luck out there and Merry Christmas.