The first Christmas Jason and I were married, we decided to give each other the gift of learning and buy each other winter semester tuition. It bites that college tuition comes due in December, but that’s how it works. We emptied our bank account, purse and pockets and hunkered down for a very simple Christmas. We had newlywed love and that was enough – almost.
It was our first Christmas together and I didn’t want it to be completely pathetic, so I came up with the idea to exchange homemade gifts. Anyone can go to the store and buy something, but how romantic it would be, I thought, to tap into creativity and resourcefulness to make gifts for each other.
Twenty Christmases later, no matter what our financial situation has been, we have maintained that tradition. It has turned out to be awesome – for me, anyway.
Who knew I would end up married to one of the great western artists of our time? Though Jason always had mad art skills, when I married him he was a sophomore in art education with plans to become a high school art teacher. He had yet to even pick up a paintbrush and dip into oils. But as his education, skills and talent progressed so has his art career, and therefore the grandeur of the homemade gift I receive each Christmas.
On Christmas Eve I get to unwrap an original masterpiece painted just for me by a contemporary artistic master. Over the years he has done portraits of our children and me, landscape scenes from vacation spots as well as scenes from our beautiful Cache Valley.
And what has Jason received in return? A homemade Hawaiian shirt, a poem, a clay ornament, an “Our Greatest Hits” music cd, a robe, a framed photo montage, a wool vest . . . those are the highlights. Poor guy.
He says he loves whatever I make for him. Talented and sweet, if occasionally dishonest. How did I get so lucky?
On Saturday night I unwrapped this year’s offering – a breathtaking scene of the Grand Canyon.
We took a family vacation there a couple of years ago over spring break. I remember it well because at every overlook the kids and I would stand in a huddle to try and keep warm while we waited for Jason to take hundreds of photos. Through chattering teeth we whined about the great trials of having an artist for a husband and father.
Even though I don’t deserve him or the beautiful paintings that hang all over my house to remind me of Christmas and the Christlike person I share my life with everyday, I do know what I have.
I am blessed.