Mario always reminds me that he is not an artist, he is an artisan. He is a 60-year-old cancer patient at St. Mary's who lives down the street from my office, and continually supplies it with new art for it's walls. Often, he will visit me to make long-distance calls to his family who own a flower shop on the other side of the state ("Our last name means 'Beautiful Flower' in Italian," he reminds me), and each time, he brings something shockingly original.
Currently, I have a framed tissue paper collage, his pastel self-portrait (complete with a pair of real, lens-less glasses stuck onto the paper), a brick with crayon-wax-dipped sandwich skewers mimicking a bouquet, and a metallic Christmas "wreath" made from permanent marker-colored parts of a grill. The guy is astoundingly creative.
For Christmas, I wanted to make him something. I have pretty limited artistic abilities, including some debatable photography and ability to knit without pattern with varied success. For Mario, I decided to transcribe the verse of a Christmas song, one that reminded me of him. On a small sheet of posterboard, I caligrified the following words:
"A thrill of Hope!
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!"
Below it, I drew a simple sunrise. I laminated it, and waited for him to come in this week.
When Mario arrived, he insisted on giving me a gift first. True to his name, he gave me a small clutch of dried flowers (to add to my collection of dried roses and lillies I have hanging by my desk, taken from who-knows-who's garden.)
With hesitation, I gave him the gift I made him.
"I'm no artisan," I said.
He read it a few times, and through his tears said,
"This may be the only Christmas gift I receive this year, but even if it wasn't, it would still be the best. I'm putting it on my wall as soon as I get home."
The weary world rejoices.