Today, on Christmas Day, in place of my normal Friday news column, I have this special bit of investing commentary for my readers:
Investing In Your Children’s Future
Today, December 25th, for most Americans, is a holiday of generous excess. We live in a still relatively prosperous nation, and we are a people known for our generosity. One end of your house is most likely strewn with bits of wrapping paper and ribbons. Your children or grandchildren are surely playing with their new toys, dolls, and games. A few of them are probably pouting, because they didn’t receive a Playstation 5 or an iPhone 12 — or whatever gadget it is that they had been hoping for. And I suspect that many of those who received both gadgets and books are now busy playing with the gadgets, but they have piled up their new books “to look at later.”
Take this essay as my personal challenge to you… Ask yourself: What can and should I do differently in the coming year when looking for birthday, graduation, charitable gifts, housewarming gifts, and Hannukah/Christmas gifts that will make a real difference in the life of the recipient?
I have a few suggestions, that come from my own “Tangibles Heavy” perspective as a 60-year-old Curmudgeon-In-Training who lives 25 miles from the nearest sidewalk or any cellphone reception. I’m also a Christian, a conservative, a libertarian, and a traditionalist. So your circumstances may vary.
The following are my suggestions. These are general guidelines and principles, rather than brand names and model numbers:
Things that truly last. Gadgets don’t last. In today’s Bluetooth-enabled world, most of them are essentially obsolete in less than three or four years. But, in contrast, some gifts are truly timeless. I have some items in my home that belonged to my grandfather, and a few that belonged to my great-grandfather. And you can probably guess what most of those items are: Books, tools, knives, and guns. A few of these items I use almost daily. A good example is a horsehair push broom that belonged to my paternal grandfather. It was very well made, so if I continue to treat it well, then it might still be intact to pass along to one of my grandsons. Another one of my prized possessions is a Winchester brand screwdriver that also belonged to my grandfather. You may not have heard, but Winchester launched a hardware store chain, just a few years before the Great Depression began. Sadly, the store chain didn’t last. But there are still a surprising number of collectible Winchester-marked tools that are still quite useful. You can find them on eBay, if you are patient.
Gifts that require an investment of your time. Obviously, something that you made with your own hands are at the top of this list. But also consider investing your time in genealogy research for your family. That takes a lot of time, but it can result in something tangible that will be treasured for many generations to come. And if copies (both electronic and hard copy) are put in the hands of many members of your extended family, then it will be almost impossible for it to be destroyed by natural or man-made disasters.
Things that hold or gain value. Consider: Items that depreciate are gifts that will probably end up in a landfill within a few years. But silver dollars won’t!
Truly useful tools. A legal maxim that I’ve often mentioned in my writings is: “The value of a thing is what that thing will bring.” Tools are a prime example. And needless to say, I’m a big believer in buying tools made by small companies in the United States and Canada. Oh, and Swiss-made pocketknives. I also own a large bench vise marked “ENGLAND” that will probably last for several generations.
If you see friends or neighbors in need who are unemployed or underemployed, then consider giving them tools that will aid them in becoming self-employed and self-sufficient.
A good gift to consider for someone that just bought a home on anything over a quarter acre would be fruit and nut tree saplings. That is a multi-generational gift!
A good book or two. Namely:
- Books that are edifying, wholesome, and give glory to God.
- Books that open doors to opportunities and creativity.
- Books that are truly valuable references that can be used for many years.
I should mention that it is important to concentrate on buying books with sturdy bindings, so that they will last for several generations of readers.
Well-made musical instruments. Shop for instruments that match the recipient’s interests in the long term. Don’t buy an instrument that you think that they’d enjoy playing but rather one that matches their interests. Buy quality. But be sure to consider the portability of that instrument. A piano might be good gift for someone who recently bought a capacious house, but not for someone 18 years old who will probably be moving five times in the next 10 years.
Also, for anyone who is already on their way to mastering an instrument, think in terms of how they might branch out. If they already play the guitar and own a nice one, then consider getting them a mandolin. Or, say that if they already play the trumpet. Try to find them either a pocket trumpet or perhaps a scarce valve trombone.
Items that reinforce rather than tear apart personal relationships. The gift of World of Warcraft or Minecraft software doesn’t count, since those aren’t a face-to-face relationships!
And, last but not least…
Investment grade guns. As a survivalist, I consider guns the perfect gift to pass along to your successor generations. If you look back through this essay, then you will see that guns meet the requirements of the majority of the points that I’ve just laid out. Don’t buy inexpensive “junk” guns for gifts. Buy heirloom quality guns that will last.
I may be biased, but I recommend that you invest in both modern guns and antique guns for gifts. Pre-1899 antique guns have several advantages. Most notably they are already rare, and they are bound to become rarer (and valuable) with every passing year. And, since they are Federally exempt, they will be the last guns that draw the attention of gun-grabbing politicians. Consider that the December 31, 1898 legal threshold was established back in 1968, and it is unlikely to change. In 1968 the term “antique” meant a 70-year-old gun. But as of January 1st, legally, “antique” means a 123-year-old gun. Thus, they are gradually become less and less of an issue, in the eyes of anti-gun politicians. So it will be Pre-1899 guns that people can still use for hunting, target practice, and self-defense, even if they have to make their other guns “disappear”, for a time. With politicians like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Gun Czar Francis “Beto” O-Rourke waiting in the wings. That may be coming sooner than you think.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that whenever you present a gun to a family member as a gift that you also look them in the eye and deliver these three strong admonitions:
1.) Treat this gun well, keep it safe from rust and politicians — the two natural enemies of guns — and it will still be in the family and fully serviceable for centuries.
2.) Think twice about ever selling it. If you are ever pressed to raise cash, then sell any other possessions, first.
3.) Don’t ever, ever consider registering it or surrendering it to some petty bureaucrat. You’d be handing them your heritage and your birthright. I’ll roll in my grave if you do!
In closing, buy your gifts wisely, with considerable thought about the future generations who carry your family name. – JWR