December 25, 2017

A Very Merry Christmas!

I want to share a story about the gifts my wife and I exchanged this Christmas (2017). I hope our readers will appreciate the back stories that make our gift giving meaningful and memorable. And if any of this inspires your gift-giving, then I really have accomplished my purpose. 

Big Picture: My wife (Mary Alyse Butler-Smith) and I exchanged branding irons this Christmas. I commissioned mine this Fall to be made by a welder/friend in Beagle, Kansas near PeCanaan Land. Then it dawned on me I needed to find a brand suitable for the Missus! I found Ferrum Studios in Colorado who went a thousand miles above and beyond to create a memorable, personal gift. Now, enjoy the back story.

[Message from me to the Krems, owners of Ferrum Studios - fabricator of snowflake brand. I sent this message to them just after ordering the brand.]

I'd like to tell you a story about brands that I hope will encourage you in your
My dad worked his own brand
out of his initials - CAS.
In this case, he hand carved a Texas cowboy boot
and wood burned his brand in front.
work. I was born and raised in Alaska to parents who were both from Texas. My dad loved to collect brands (just the symbol, not actual branding irons) of ranches in Texas. I wanted to be like Dad. As a six-year old child, when we traveled down to TX, I carried a 3x5 card and pencil with me. When I would see a "long, tall Texan" (basically anyone wearing a Stetson hat and cowboy boots), I'd walk up to him and ask for the brand of his outfit. Dad eventually made a small box for dominoes and wood burned our brands all over it.

The brand my dad
designed for me.
My initials are CHS. Dad pondered for a long time how to form them into a brand. Finally, in the last few years of his life Dad figured out an elegant solution - he arranged the letters as if they were three slices of pie.

I use the logo extensively in print and in some of my online work, but it never dawned on me to actually make a branding iron out of the logo. A month ago, I asked a welder friend to fabricate one for me. I'll pick it up this week. My wife gets to claim credit for it and is giving it to me for Christmas.

I'm left looking for a great gift for her. She loves snow. So, I scoured the
My dad worked my initials into a logo/brand
and then carved them into the top piece
of this small "grandfather clock".
internets and found your branding iron.

Matching branding irons for Christmas! So glad I found you guys. I'll be promoting you on my Facebook page... after Christmas. Sorry, can't let the cat out of the bag before then.

Wish you the very best!

[Message from the Krems to me]

Hi Clark!

What a nice way to start our morning...I read your email while sipping coffee and just had tears streaming down my face. Even my husband was so touched. Your touching email sparked an hour long conversation between us (my husband and myself) reminiscing about my husband’s late father and what he treasures now and even what he treasured as a young boy.

What a touching story and we love, absolutely love hearing these poignant and sentimental stories. Your brand is absolutely stunning...just stunning. Even more special your father created it.

We have made the snowflake for your lucky wife. Given the sentiment of branding irons, we took the artistic liberty of upgrading her handle. I hope you don't mind but given there is sentiment smothered all around this Christmas for you, we wanted to put a little dash of you into her brand. The fact that Texas was such a big part of your upbringing, we had a handle forged out of a horseshoe into a heart. Texas...Stetson hats...cowboys...I can only imagine there were a few horses there somewhere.  I hope you don't mind but we wanted to do something nice for you, for her and to pass something special on.

Hope she absolutely loves it! We're shipping it out first thing tomorrow so you should have it by the end of this week.

If you were here I'd hug you. You truly made our day that much more special.

Stacy and Kurt Krems

[My message back to the Krems]

Well, guess who's crying now? I'm so touched. I'm sitting beside my wife in our living room, gasping, and all I can say is "I can't wait for Christmas!" Thank you so much for listening to my little story and understanding what is important to me. You captured the sentiment perfectly. Yes, there were horses involved!

I was born when my dad was 45. I went away to college and rarely saw my folks until my dad passed away at age 72 in 1986. In a lot of ways, I feel like I am finally discovering my dad through these shards of memories and unique experiences. Obviously, you fully understand how these branding irons are a long, strong hug with my dad. He would be so proud of me.

Thank you again, very very much.

Can't wait for Christmas!!

And now... the branding irons:

Alyse with snowflake branding iron.
Note the horseshoe heart handle!

CHS with CHS

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