I've given John his gift, so I can now share about it on my blog. He loved it and said he only wishes he were still playing professionally so he could show it off to an audience. He kept saying, "This is wild." Here are a couple of pictures, followed by the story of its existence.
The Challenge of the Perfect Gift!
Is it not one of the best feelings in the world when you know you’ve come up with the perfect gift for someone you dearly love? I am in that state of euphoria at this moment.
As I am writing, I have not yet given my perfect gift to my perfect mate. I have six days to go before I see the look on his face when he opens it. I can hardly wait. I don’t think I have ever been so excited about a gift.
My husband is a musician. He played professionally all through the seventies and early eighties. Then he got “a real job” in the car business. But he still loves to play and loves vintage guitars. I love the sound of his guitar as it resonates throughout the house. Music is a big part of our lives. I admire his talent. And he has taught me more about guitars than I ever dreamed possible.
I remember my daughter-in-law telling me one night, as we were sitting in the bonus room watching John play, “You look like a high school girl admiring the captain of the football team.” That is exactly how I still feel after four years of marriage. Having said that, I guess it’s obvious how important John’s gift is to me.
One day in June, I happened to be watching Midday Today on Channel 4. It was during Fanfare. A woman was being interviewed who creates custom guitar straps for many famous performers. And I knew instantly what John was getting for Christmas.
I went straight to her website and sent an email. I did not expect a personal response. I expected to hear from an assistant. But she and I began a warm relationship as we brainstormed ideas for John’s personalized guitar strap.
She wanted to know all about John. I had to come up with answers to some pretty tough questions. She asked me, for instance, who his top three guitar heroes were. I later asked John on the way home from a concert one night, as if it had just popped into my head spontaneously. He asked why I was asking. I told him someone had asked me and I was curious if I’d named them correctly. Then I told him my answers. He was impressed that I’d known. And I was beaming that, out of all his many favorites, I knew the top three!
From June through December, I have developed an email friendship with the woman who has created John’s one-of-a-kind, custom leather strap. Her name is Jeri Hart and she will return to Nashville again this June. She has been a joy to work with and has really invested herself in this project. It is so important to her for his strap to be just right that she is still sending me pictures and making minor changes one week before Christmas.
Jeri has been wonderful and she has allowed me to be a big part of the creative process. She has enabled me to give John the perfect gift.
I’ve given my final approval to the last change today and the sewing has begun. I will receive shipment at the last minute, which is good for me. I am not known for my ability to refrain from giving an early gift; especially one I am this excited about.
I had important goals for this strap. At Christmas, I try to think of a way I can include Brittany in a gift, as though we are giving it to her dad together. I want the strap to be about John’s life. I want it to glorify God. And every time he looks at it, I want John to be reminded that he is one-of-a-kind to me.
Here is a description of the strap and what each symbol represents:
John’s initials frame a ’67 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster he bought while we were on our honeymoon. The symbol of a heart with wings, rising up between the clouds and stars is for Brittany, John’s daughter. She passed away in August of 2003. There is a brightly shining sun above all. I wanted Brittany to be under the sunshine of God’s love and in a scene that represented heaven.
Below her are two hearts, with the Cross at their center, pierced by an arrow. That’s the symbol for us, our marriage, and Christ at the center of our love. One day we will be reunited with Brittany, who for now resides above us.
The background is a winding road that represents John’s life. There’s a car, which represents his profession and love of cars in general. Next to the car is our two-year-old grandson’s word for cars, “Vrmmm.” Joshua shares a love of music and cars with his “Poppy John.”
There are red crystals covering the strap. They represent the blood of Christ covering us and giving us eternal life with him; the most precious gift of all.
I had high goals and expectations for this gift. Thanks to Jeri, my ideas and emotions have been transformed into a keepsake. Mission accomplished.