Being a kid with a fishing fever always meant that I looked forward to Christmas with a particular desire for "fishing" gifts. On Christmas morning, I would wade through the requisite socks, sweaters, and other clothes from aunts and grandparents, looking for the present that had my Dad's distinctive handwriting on it. I learned very early to recognize his writing, or rather printing. Like an engineering student at a drafting board, he printed almost everything.
"To Ronnie, From Santa Claus", it would say, and it was always in his neat printing. For reasons unknown but accepted by me, Santa would have my Dad address the packages.
On this particular Christmas, I had opened everything and had not yet found my fishing prize. Had I been watching closer, I probably would have seen my Dad watching for my expressions. But, as it was, I was beginning to get disappointed.
"I thought I saw something sticking up in the hedge out front when I got the paper this morning", he finally said. "Why don't you see what it was."
"I almost broke the door down getting to the hedge, and there it was. Sticking up out of the hedge was a spinning rod - not just any spinning rod, mind you, but a Hurricane rod. And on it was not just any spinning reel, but a genuine Orvis 100, the best of them all in my mind. My Christmas day was now complete!
I spent that Christmas afternoon in 1955 on my bike riding the banks of the Coral Gables waterway, one of several saltwater canals that pierce the shoreline of Biscayne Bay south of Miami.
Snook, tarpon, mangrove snapper, and jack - they were all found in the waterway. And I caught some of them that day - caught them on my new smooth reel with new line and a new rod - the one my Dad addressed for Santa.
I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy Holiday, wherever you are. May you be fortunate enough to receive a gift that will instill a lifetime memory! And may we always remember the reason we celebrate Christmas!