What if Christmas, she thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

christmas-grinchThis Christmas, I only had to ship out 3 Christmas gifts to family, that’s a new low.  We were fortunate enough this year to see most of the family and give them gifts in person.

One of the gifts, tracked that it was delivered, but a few days later, when I talked to my Dad, he had not received his package.  It was 2 days before Christmas and I really wanted to get a gift to him in time for Christmas.

Many of you know how huge an impact both of my parents have been in my life and in my business.  My mom started the Angel Pin business, which I fell in love with and started out helping her, then branched out into my own company.  We still talk about those early days when I was struggling to set up my first website and all the trials and tribulations that came with it.  Designing the angels came easy for me, but setting up the vehicle to actually sell them was a bit more of a challenge.

Mom was by my side through all of it and is still a huge support source for me. That was almost 15 years ago.

Last year, I embarked on a new adventure ~ “My Legacy of Love” from an idea sparked by my Dad.  Over the last year, as that project has grown and developed and become an actual product that I can share with you, it was my Dad that I turned to for guidance during the development.  He has been my rock, my confident and my advisor for this entire project.

The gift I mailed to him was just something I bought from a store.  No particular significance, just something I thought he would enjoy.  When it wasn’t delivered, my first thought was, “Well, how do you like that? I sent him the wrong thing.  It wasn’t meant for him to receive that gift, it did not embrace his contribution nor my appreciation of him, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

So I thought and I thought and I thought some more, I had to do something very, very special for this incredible man that means so much to me and has molded me into the person I am today.

So I thought about him . . .  What’s most important to him?  That was easy, His Family and His Faith.  My next question was “What can I do for him, that he can’t do?”  In other words, what are my gifts, my talent?  -  That was easy too, I love to draw and create pieces of art in some fashion or another.

So, it was decided.  I would make him something that could be sent over the internet that had to do with his family and his faith, but what?  Then I thought about the impact he had on “My Legacy of Love” and how this gift should really tie in with that project.

And then it came to me . . . A drawing of his life and accomplishments…  It was still a little foggy, I was thinking maybe a collage or timeline image, I just wasn’t exactly sure how to pull it all together, but I started making a list of the highlights of his life.  Then I started thinking of various images that I could use to signify each one.

I called my Aunt for help.  She has all the old family albums and I knew she had exactly what I needed.  She agreed to send me pictures of the old family homestead and our old family church.  I knew those two buildings would be the center focus of this picture as it clearly represented Family and Faith.

She sent me several pictures that night as she poured through the family albums, knowing the types of things I was looking for.  She was a great help to me and the only reason this gift came together in short order.

I’ll tell you Dad’s story first, then show you the gift I created for him . . .

My Dad was born into a very large family in Lubbock, Tx.  There were 11 kids!  Lubbock doesn’t have many trees, but there used to be this really big windmill that was a major landmark in town and I wanted to use that windmill to signify Lubbock.  In the blades of the windmill, you will see the names of all of his brothers and sisters.

Dad was always interested in all forms of agriculture and was in FFA in high school.  He entered his Barrow Pig into the South Plains Junior Fat Stock Show and won Grand Champion.  (His grand champion pig can be seen grazing in the front yard, wearing his Grand Champion Ribbon) After graduating from Lubbock High School, (School Mascot “the Westerners” is shown in the lower right corner of the picture) he was drafted into the US Army where he served during the Korean War. (hanging on the windmill, you will see the Korean Medal of Service to signify his time there.)

 When he came home after his honorable discharge, he drew up floor plans and the elevation for a new family home, which his brothers and his father helped build.  (The house in the picture is my rendition of the front elevation of this house and his parents’ names are added to either side of the front door.) He attended Texas Technological College (now known as Texas Tech University) and earned a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture. (You will see the old TT logo from his college days on the tail of the windmill)

Dad was an active member of Central Baptist Church in his youth and for many years into his adulthood.  This is where he met my mother.  He served on many committees there and was a leader of the deacon’s for that congregation for many years.  It’s the church he married my mother at and the church that several of his brothers and sisters were married in.  It’s the church I was baptized at.  This church holds a lot of significance to our family.

After graduating from Tech, he began working for USDA in the Plant Protection and Quarantine Division.  His early work revolved around the Cotton Boll Weevil project for many years. (the bottom left of the picture you will see USDA logo with a cotton boll overlaid in the corner)  

As a government employee, each time he earned a promotion, it meant a move for our family.  Our first move was to the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen, Texas. (Signified by the palm trees and orange tree, each of the oranges bears a name of his fruits – his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren)

Another promotion took us back to Lubbock, My dad and his brothers owned a lake house for the families to enjoy at Buffalo Lakes and they also had a cabin in the mountains of Cloudcroft, New Mexico.  Family time was of the utmost importance.  (You will find the names of these locations written in the pine trees.) Our next move was to the Piney Woods in Houston, Tx. (Signified by the Pine Trees).  He remained in this area, promoting all the way to the top position for his district, officing at the Port of Houston until he retired.

It was during this time that my parents were divorced and several years later, my Dad reconnected with an old high school flame that he also met at Central Baptist Church all those years ago.  They were married and she brought two daughters of her own into our family. (Their names are written in the lower branches of the pine trees)

After he retired, he and his wife moved back to Lubbock, where he still lives today.  He still enjoys agriculture, both plants and animals ~ helping my uncle with his horse ranch and family garden (signified by the bushel barrel of vegetables).  The garden is tended by all of his siblings that wish to participate and the harvest is split between them.  He also helps his brother as a building contractor for new office buildings, so his love of construction is still a key role in his life.

He enjoys attending the Tech Basketball games with his brothers and sisters, and Raider Red (center of the image) has always got his guns up at those games.

His love for the ministry is still a very active piece of his life as he volunteers with the Prison Ministry in Lubbock and faithfully attends his church.

I can already see that there will need to be a part 2 of this picture, but for now, I’ve captured the highlights.

MEMORY-LANE3

I had this photo printed out in 8x10 at Walgreens in Lubbock, and asked my Aunt to pick it up and wrap it up for him.  She texted to let me know she got it and was so excited about it that she couldn’t wait to give it to him.  She asked if she could give it to him at a family dinner on Christmas Eve instead of making him wait until Christmas morning.  Her delight and excitement thrilled me, so I agreed.  My cousin was able to FaceTime me so that I could “be there” for the grand unveiling.

At first he seemed a bit confused, because, wouldn’t you know it, his original Christmas package had arrived at his door that very afternoon.  My guess is that it had been delivered to the wrong address and some kind soul got it to his doorstep by Christmas Eve.

It was fun to watch him “discover” the significance of a picture a little girl drew and colored for her Daddy for Christmas.

I’m thinking of adding this service to my line and would love to know your thoughts about it.

The possibilities of how it could be used are endless. 

Top of mind is Anniversary Invitations, Party Favors for a Milestone Birthday, Retirement Gifts or just a very special gift to a very special person, not to mention what an amazing Memorial Gift it would be.

Just some of my thoughts, let me know yours…

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Alice Ann Parsons - December 30, 2015 Reply

Hi Carla,
What a wonderful memory you gave your Dad. I was thinking in the beginning when you said your Dad’s gift wasn’t delivered to someone else I thought you had made someone else’s life wonderful with your gift!
Glad your Dad got his gift.
Thanks for sharing.
Angel Love,
Alice Ann
^j^

Sheila Lohrenz - December 31, 2015 Reply

Since you draw so well, why not use your and others ideas and put them in cards, and add a short verse. Some topics could be a sonogram of mom and baby, military, graduations, nursing, grandmothers and grandchildren,nature,
Religious, seasons, Ocean and beaches, births, marriages, birthdays, gardening, sports, medals,careers ,
Animals, etc. I loved the story of your Father and the Christmas gifts ! You write so well ! Your art work is gorgeous;).
I don’t know if what I am submitting is what you are looking for or not, but this came to mind. I do not have a website.??.

    Carla Schwille - December 31, 2015 Reply

    I’ve thought about doing cards for many years, but I have never really completed them. I really appreciate you suggesting that.

sherry - December 31, 2015 Reply

I love this idea and what a loving thing for you to give your dad! – a real blessing

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