By RYAN M. TAYLOR
For the Capital Press
The holidays are a time to give. I try to reinforce that when I give my kids money in the store, and, before their eyes get too bright and they head for the toy aisle, I tell them to put it in the Salvation Army kettle for people who need it more than we do at Christmas.
It's a good time of year to remember your favorite benevolent causes, give to your church, help serve a free community dinner, think of others and put our own selfish tendencies aside.
It's a fight to remember the higher meaning of the season and the generosity it deserves in the onslaught of crass consumerism that encourages us to want things we don't need to impress people we don't know.
When my wife and I are reading bedtime stories to our children, we're always proud when they pick "Wilbur's Christmas Gift" written by our friend Rodney Nelson, for us to read. The last page has Wilbur reminiscing about his mother's advice that the greatest gifts he'd ever get were those he'd give away.
There's a lot of agreement on the servant leader philosophy that when you serve others you really do serve yourself. It makes us feel good to help others, give of ourselves, teach something to another, extend a little generosity.
I was in such a giving mood this year, I gave even more than I planned.
Two days before Christmas we left our pickup at a ranch supply store in the "big city," population 36,000 or so. We dropped it there in the morning, so they could hook their gooseneck flatbed to it and load some merchandise on it for me to take home later that day.
Five hours of broad daylight later I went to retrieve the pickup and trailer, did a walk-around to check the tires and lights and such, and there my receiver hitch was -- gone!
Now having your receiver hitch stolen isn't like having someone lift your wallet, take your wedding ring from your nightstand or rustle your cattle, but it really chapped me. It was one of the good hitches, four-inch drop, rated for 10,000 pounds of towing, with one of the finest 2 5/16-inch balls you'd ever find.
I'd had that hitch since before I was married, so that when I got hitched, I'd have a hitch to hook to. I felt empty without that hitch riding in its two-inch steel box channel, where it'd been for the last eight years.
Some would say it was my turn. Receiver hitches may be the No. 1 rated item of petty theft in pickup-and-trailer country. It's probably odd for a guy to keep one for eight years if he never took the precaution of pulling the hitch and throwing it under his seat when it wasn't in use.
I figured since I never took it out it'd be safe. I thought the gravel, rust and corrosion would have it sealed in tight enough to deter the casual, passing thief -- especially one without a hammer and a can of WD40.
I was wrong.
To make the best of the situation I've decided to consider the cowardly Dec. 23 receiver hitch heist an unplanned Christmas gift from me to someone I didn't even know.
So Merry Christmas, you scoundrel. Enjoy the hitch or the money you got for it.
I guess I'll be removing the next hitch when I'm not using it and throwing it in the cab of the pickup.
Of course, the doors won't be locked and the keys will probably be in the ignition, in case you need a pickup to go with the hitch.