Christmas morning 1962 left me forever scarred with trust issues.

Like many rural kids growing up with three-channel insight of a monochromatic world, Christmas dreams and behavior were driven by an endless parade of Three Stooges shorts and “westerns” that are now known as livestock management technicians vs. other white guys dressed up like angry Native Americans.

There were no “timeouts” when my little sister “the Bean” and I were first testing the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

The Bean was not in the least bit adventurous, bordering on angelic. Attempts to broaden her horizons often resulted in Bean learning by example: watching me receive frequent and substantial canings.

Had Bean paid more attention to Larry Fine’s demonstration of the “anti-voot” by placing her hand in front of her nose, she wouldn’t have suffered the “voot’ of being poked in both eyes, saving me another caning experience.

Looking back, I think Dad was tired of doling out corporal punishment, concluding psychological interventions might be more beneficial in child rearing—or at least bring him greater satisfaction. The opportunity to test this theory came at Christmas 1962.

I had dropped several hints in the previous weeks that a pony would be the best gift ever.

There was no pony when I came bounding down the stairs on Christmas morn.

Dad hinted that perhaps I should check the outsized flannel stocking hanging by the fireplace.

Several horse apples in that big red sock provided the only equine clue. Then Dad speculated, “Well son, looks like the pony got away.”

Arbor Day has been my favorite holiday since then, hoping some day efforts would reward me with a suitable bough to educate my own kids. Today’s parents follow a muse with buttons, beeps and a screen, endlessly practicing for a special day of American excess—Cyber Monday.

The Geek Squad is probably your best source for propagating our new American lifestyle. But if you’re looking for something that might pique interest on the world beyond the screen, an annual fishing license or booking a trip with a local guide are good options.

St. Croix Rod is offering a couple of amazing deals on rod/reel combos, with 30-60 percent off some rods with free shipping. The difference between a quality fishing rod and a discount store cheapo is akin to the difference between the basic PFD and a Mustang Type V inflatable vest.

I wouldn’t consider leaving the dock without first donning my Mustang. You can check out these lifesaving products at (Subliminal flashback to ’62?)

Ice fishing season will be here before Christmas. A great dual-purpose gift is a brushless DeWalt or Milwaukee drill, at least 18V. Other brands just don’t hold up. Strikemaster offers the perfect accessory: the Lite-Flite ice drill.

Disposable handwarmers have been more popular “stocking stuffers” than horse apples for many years. Adhesive body and toe warmers of the same genre have lesser renown but are truly wonderful.

Homemade items often have greater meaning in our spending-obsessed society. My wife is baking dog biscuits for many friends and family who are “dog people.” The recipe is simple. A variety of cookie cutters are available.

I’m crafting a special one for my brother-in-law. He has a new black Lab puppy named “Lambeau Leep.” Like many puppies, Leep likes to chew stuff with his master’s scent.

This pup is too classy to gnaw hunting boots. He prefers hearing aids!

The first two tasted so good Leep has already wolfed one of the replacements—at $1,000 a chomp. Hopefully, the cookie cutter template in the shape of a hearing aid will be completed today.

Treats are a great incentive when dog training.

Beltone Biscuits! The perfect stocking stuffer for a brother-in-law too old to want a pony.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at