Most of us received at least one, or maybe a bunch, of gifts this past holiday season that we wish we hadn’t received.  To illustrate, our supplemental Medicare insurance company sent Marilyn and me weekly pill boxes we didn’t ask Santa for.

We can still remember the date, time and can count!  Memo to the insurance company: You don’t need to remind us of our age. 

I know what our insurer really wants.  The common explanation is “Insurance is designed to insure the company makes a profit, while we endure the payments.”  There, I feel better having said that.

I also received a toilet plunger and a fly swatter that came with the gift-tag, “For things that don’t move when they should, and for things that move too fast when they shouldn’t.”  These are items I can use more than the pill box.

"Known Carrier of Fish Fever" is the caption on a wooden engraved sign I received and am supposed to hang somewhere visible to forewarn visitors that I suffer a chronic malady.  Whoever sent it couldn’t get the grammar right (my disease is called fishing fever), but I appreciate the thought.    

Yes, I have the fever and am mighty proud of it.  Instead of killing me, it has saved me by helping me regain perspective when I most needed it. 

My current outbreak of fishing fever prompted me to tie artificial flies for warmer months while another goliath winter storm was blustering outside our farm home.  As I was sorting through my drawers of fly-tying materials, I found several unopened gifts and labeled boxes from years past. 

One box was labeled tie-flying stuff.  Marilyn had penned this tab, but I know what she meant.  It took me back to my early days of fly-fishing with her dad Walt some 45 years ago. 

After he died a dozen years ago, Marilyn and I packed his ample collection of fly-tying materials, including feathers, furs, fishing hooks, threads and all sorts of notes he kept to create a supply of carefully crafted lures he shared with me and many fellow fishers.  No one else in the family ties flies so I was the fortunate soul to inherit most of Walt’s fly-fishing paraphernalia.

I found still more Christmas fly-fishing gifts from years past that I saved for some apparent reason I can’t remember now.  Maybe I do need the pill box.

I have a free pass to golf a 9-hole course at a western Nebraska rural community that has a stream stocked with trout flowing near the town.  Hmm!

Also, I found two boxes of playing cards and dice for some kind of game and another box of cards with fishing pictures on the back, all of which were probably well meant by the persons who gave them to me, but unnecessary.  When my companions and I aren’t fishing or hunting, we enjoy much more edifying pursuits than playing card games, like tasting local brews and sampling good farm community eateries.

Our house was full and very noisy over a fair part of the holiday season when four grandchildren (ages 4 years to 9 months) and their parents cohabitated with us.  “The weather outside was frightful but the fire was so delightful,” as the song says. 

Despite the snowy weather, Jon and my son-in-law hunted pheasants and the ladies “hunted” shopping centers.  I was supposed to watch the grandkids.

One or more the grandchildren (probably my two year-old namesake, Mikey) toppled the Christmas tree when I wasn’t observing them. The uppermost ornament broke, a painted porcelain figure of “Grandpa fishing in a float tube.”  Oh no! 

For 37 years Marilyn hung three treasured figurines on our Christmas tree.  The grandpa fishing in a float tube smoking a cigar represented Grandpa Walt until he died a dozen years ago; now it’s me.   

There is a young adult fly fisherman landing a “big one” that depicted me until Walt passed and a youngster in waders proudly holding an even bigger fish that represented Jon until he became the adult fisherman a dozen years ago.  Now it’s waiting for Mikey to inherit the position.  Granddaughters would be okay too.

When I realized Mikey and I could currently exemplify two of these Christmas ornaments, I was no longer dismayed.  Mikey and I need to go fishing when he is a year or two older.

Santa Claus got several things right.  He brought Marilyn a bedframe, springs and mattress that she has been wanting for years for our guest bedroom.  He brought me a pair of thermo-insulated boots to wear throughout an entire day of ice-fishing without my arthritic feet getting cold. 

There also was another painted wooden sign.  This one says “A fisherman lives here with the best catch of his life.”  I agree; it now hangs above the door from the attached garage to our house. 

Dr. Mike lives on a Harlan, Iowa farm with his wife Marilyn.  Contact him at: