Like most American kids, I thought Christmas was the cardinal holiday of the year. (Though Halloween was pretty close, which probably says something about me…) My parents always had a full-size evergreen in the living room and its decoration was a family endeavor and tradition. (Watering it regularly for fire prevention was a given.) That tradition continued when I married and my late first wife and I had kids of our own.

We got to where we harvested our own Christmas trees, and that became a tradition unto itself. One dark and particularly frigid December night, we got to the grove and realized that we had grabbed the wrong saw, a dull and rusty one.

Hell with that! I grabbed an Ithaca Mag-10 shotgun out of the car, and three rounds of 3.5” 10 gauge Magnum double ought buckshot later, the tree was down and on its way to the station wagon.

A score or so of years ago when the kids were grown, flown, and on their own, I downsized to a little artificial tree. It became my latter life tradition.

Our Little Dollar Tree Xmas tree.

Shotgun harvesting of Christmas accoutrements has not been lost. My second and, she assures me, final wife has been known to harvest holiday mistletoe with the 20 gauge Remington 1100 I gave her for Christmas early in our relationship.

I pulled my now twenty-year-old artificial tree out this year and discovered that it was pretty much toast. I had waited too long to decorate for the holiday.  A desperate search showed every place was sold out of decent small artificial trees.  The exception was a dollar and a quarter kit at (appropriately) Dollar Tree, which was more an homage to Charlie Brown than it was to the spirit of Ol’ Saint Nick.  At the local Lowes, the small artificial trees were gone but we found a live arborvitae that would serve as a stand-in.

So…the Christmas tree arborvitae stands tall short in the living room, and the Charlie Brown Memorial $1.25 tree sits on a desk in our new downtown office. The arborvitae will get planted…somewhere … after the holidays.

But, enough about us. Gail and I wish you and yours the very best of holidays and the strongest and warmest of seasonal spirit. Feel free to share here your sentiments, and this being a gun blog, any guns you gave or got this year or earlier.  ‘tis the spirit of The Season.  


  1. A very healthy and safe Merry Christmas to you and the princess. Santa gave me a new red dot ready slide for my XD-9mm. He’s such a nice old chap. A happy new year to all.

  2. Merry Christmas! Thanks for all you do. Y’all stay safe and warm out there. Hoping Santa doesn’t find you on the Naughty List. ~smile~

  3. Merry Christmas to you and Gail.
    Our tradition when I was young was buying an already cut tree and reusing all of our decorations. We had lead tinsel that was saved every year and would turn your fingers black going on an off of the tree. We had the original bubble lights that worked for years before the bulbs died and my father made new bases for the ones that couldn’t have the bulbs replaced. I had a two story fold out cardstock house that had 25 shuttered windows that we would open up one day at a time until the magic one on Christmas Day.
    One year a friend of mine gave my mother a Christmas card that said “A little something to sweeten the pot” on the front and had a packet of sugar inside. That started a yearly back and forth trip until my mom passed away and now my friend has passed also.
    My present wife and I bought a $10 tree a few years ago and put it up every year until she threw it out this year claiming it was shot. I’m thinking she just wanted a pre-lit one.
    Our live tree we bought in 2015 and was about 3 foot tall now stands about 18 feet tall and is too tall for me to be able to string lights in it. The girls just decorated the nice bushes I have around the tree in the front yard. Old bones don’t care for the danger of climbing up a tall ladder.
    Again, Have a Joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year,
    In the Valley of the Sun, Arizona

  4. As young parents we joined extended family to harvest Christmas trees from the national forest. I was too easily satisfied, therefore not allowed to select trees, so my roll was to build a fire and gather all the little cousins and give them cocoa as they became wet and cold. Over time the wild trees became too big and we migrated to tree farms. Finally this year we purchased our first artificial tree. I’ve suggested it for years. Finally, It was my wife’s idea. No guns as gifts, but I have overheard whispers about gifts of range time with my kids.

  5. Thank you and Happy Winter Solstice, the original, mid winter holiday, a few days late. The days are growing longer, and the nights shorter. The sun is returning.

    I wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

  6. Wishing the very best of the Christmas spirits to you and Gail.
    May we all make it through the new year without the need to cut any living thing down with a 12 gauge. 🌲

  7. My 11yo son wanted a real looking airsoft AR rifle…not being an anti-gunner I’ve been absolutely against him having one with the state of our republic and the shoot first ask questions later police of late, I’m not anti police I’m a former member of the NYC Housing Police, even though I live in Texas I just don’t trust someone won’t call 9-11 with a “kid with an AR15” ! So he’s getting a paint ball “gun” that can’t be mistaken for a real looking firearm…the real AR will come after HS, maybe for graduation? However being an Orthodox Christian on the old calendar it isn’t our Christmas until January 6th….however we’ll just attend Liturgy at a new calendar Orthodox Church and celebrate tomorrow anyway! LOL
    Mas thank you for sharing you knowledge and wisdom and may you and your family have a blessed Christmas ☦

  8. Merry Christmas, Mas and Ms. Gail!

    Wish you both a happy holiday season and a great 2023! Hope see you both at MAG course in the coming year!

    Rich Boll

  9. Merry and Holy Christmas to you, THE Princess, and your families. Many thanks for all that you and THE Princess do for us.
    God Bless and Godspeed.

    Ronnie D(SR)

  10. My wife gave me (permission) to sign up for the Mag20 LiveFire, and perhaps she will also attend the Mag20 Classroom with me if our schedule allows.

    I ordered her a .380 Tisas last night ~~ Shooting 9mm hurts her arthritic wrists, so she’s gonna try the .380 on for size. I’m hoping she’ll find it pleasant to shoot and then feel comfortable moving back up to a 9mm.

    Mas, thanks for all the great info all year long, and the many smiles that often came along serendipitously. (Gee, I love that word.)

    Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year to all.

  11. Merry Christmas from Arizona 🏜️ to you and EP as well as any fur babies y’all might have, uncle Mas. Here, we have three trees. The first is the big one in the living room, which is green and adorned with Santa everything 🎅. The second and third are in our bedroom, with one being a mini version of the big one, the other white and adorned with all blue lights, baubles, etc, also mini sized. And yes, the latter is for law enforcement 🎄💙🍷

  12. A Very Merry Christmas to you and Gail. I just received your newest book in the mail and will be reading it over the holidays. Have a SAFE and Happy New Year! Kathy and Jon Hirz

  13. 8th Christmas for me (1958) I got my first gun, a J.C. Higgins (Marlin?) single shot .22 rifle. It’s what my dad taught me to shoot and hunt with. My son received it on his 8th Christmas and next year it will go to my grandson on his 8th Christmas. Tradition, it’s what bonds us together.

  14. Thanks for sharing those stories.

    I can easily imagine harvesting a tree with a 10-gauge magnum to be accompanied by a “Ho! Ho! Ho!” or perhaps an “Oh! Oh! Oh!”

    It’s not the size, shape, or even the adornments on the tree, it’s the spirit and love behind it–making any Christmas tree as grand as the Governor’s.

    May all your stockings be stuffed with your favorite ammo.


  15. Merry Christmas! Good to know I’m not the only one to harvest a tree with a shotgun. I used a Browning sweet 16 with 5 rounds of 0 buckshot.

  16. Speaking from experience, a 12 gauge with cheap dove loads takes down mistletoe and trims tree limbs pretty good too. May take a few more shots than 00 buck though. Merry Christmas.

  17. Nicholas M wrote:
    just don’t trust someone won’t call 9-11 with a “kid with an AR15” ! So he’s getting a paint ball “gun” that can’t be mistaken for a real looking firearm…the real AR will come after HS’

    First congratulations on the great christian name!

    I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to have a bright coloured firearm. Less chance of being mistakenly shot by the cops or an adversar realising it’s real. And anyone saying you threatened them has to explain why they didn’t know this gun they absolutely clearly saw was fluorescent pink…
    Nicholas K

  18. Merry Christmas, Mas and Gail. May you have a healthy 2023. I look forward to another year of training in Live Oak.

  19. I have memories of a Christmas where we didn’t get around to the tree thing until Christmas Eve (Dad was working a lot of OT on some DOD stuff, IIRC). When we got to the lot the pickin’s were slim except for one gorgeous tree. The guy wanted an absurd amount of money for it and wouldn’t come down. Then my Dad then said: “It’s 11:30 PM on Christmas Eve, what’s it gonna be worth tomorrow?”. We got it for a much reduced price.

    The kicker was when we got it home. The trunk needed a lot of work to fit the stand. Then, after we got it inside, we realized the tree was about 4 feet taller than the ceiling. Back onto the front porch to trim & fit the stand. I expect somewhere there’s a picture of that tree, don’t know where to look, but I’ll never forget it.

  20. Mas, wishing you and Gail, as well as all on this thread a very Merry Christmas (or Hanukkah or Quanza) and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year! Train hard, and be safe!!

  21. Mas & Gail, I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

    Wishing you & all those here a Happy, Peaceful & Prosperous 2023.

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