My wife and I were in Seattle visiting her family for Christmas. Unfortunately, I had to abandon the family on Christmas eve and drive five hours to take care of an essential work obligation. I'd had a wonderful time visiting with the family and was disappointed about cutting my vacation short. I said my goodbyes, loaded my car with what I needed, and prepared to hit the road. My father-in-law stopped me on the way out, and said he had a Christmas present for me to open the next day. Out came a large flat wrapped box. We're both gun guys, and have given firearms to one another as gifts several times over the years. I figured he'd gotten me something that goes bang and that was enough to cheer me right up. I put the box in the car and took off for home. I took care of what I needed to at work this morning and headed home to an empty house. I knew my wife and kiddo were having a good time so I wasn't feeling very bad about my predicament. I poured myself a glass of Christmas libation, called all of my family to wish everyone a merry Christmas, and then set my sights on the mystery box from my father in law. With all the tragic craziness that has gone on recently I figured it contained something I might not be able to get my hands on in the near future. Boy, was I mistaken. Christmas wrap removed, I was facing a nondescript hand made wooden box with ornate brass hardware. I suddenly felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I haven't felt that way in a long time, believe you that. I took a sip from my beverage and just savored that feeling for a couple of minutes. When I finally worked the latches and lifted the lid, I honestly sat stunned at what I was looking at for a while. I own more than my share of firearms, but none as beautiful as what I was looking at. My father-in-law's brother had fashioned me one family heirloom of a kit-built muzzle loader. It's a plum browned, metal inlaid, piece of art. He then sent it to my father-in-law who built the custom box for it containing every accessory I'd need to shoot, clean, and care for it for years to come. How do you thank a couple of guys for something like this? I have no idea. It's a labor of love that I'll be honored to pass along to my son one day, and if all goes right, he to his. This is my very first black powder gun, and it's really beyond what I have the words for. Are there prettier ones out there? Some would argue, absolutely. But, certainly not from where I'm sitting. tomorrow is going to be a very special range day. Merry Christmas everyone.