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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Best Gifts are Free.

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a little fish fry for my brother Jimmy’s birthday. Jimmy—Gabby—is my only living sibling. Our sister Melody passed away at the young age of 61, a few years back. Jimmy was golden before that—the older, wiser, and goofier sibling—but he became more dear to me after we lost our sister. Jimmy shares the DeVane family sense of humor and gift of gab. He and I can talk to just about anyone about anything, for hours. Makes running to the grocery store for just milk and bread an all-morning affair, at times.

Back when none of us had any money for presents, we would fashion heartfelt gifts from whatever we had on hand. Cards were drawn in ink, permanent markers, or crayon. For a few years, holiday gifts had to be handmade. And those were the ones we most valued.

Keeping with this Southern cracker-ingenuity tradition, I decided to make Jimmy’s gift. But what? Then the perfect solution appeared: a sign for his new recording studio. See, my brother, in addition to many other hats he has donned over the years, holds great love and respect for classic country music. For years, he co-owned a little private radio station in Quincy, Florida—WGWD. People knew they could depend on the station to air music not heard on mainstream, prerecorded formats. The DJs even made their own commercials for their advertisers, and often threw in tidbits about the recording artists. Imagine that.

When the station sold last year, the cries flew to the heavens! Where did y’all go? Where will we find anyone like you? So Jimmy and his cohorts launched a station onto the Internet, and it took off like a scalded dog. Soon, they had to change to a commercial status because of the high listener volume.

All this, to share why I made this sign. And how. I found a cruddy piece of sawed-off cedar. Brushed the dirt and cobwebs away. One end hadn’t been cut evenly, but that was perfect. I don’t generally use tools with the capacity to saw off digits, as I work as a dental hygienist, and write my novels with those fingers.

I searched for black paint for the lettering, but all of my art supplies had long since dried to cracked plastic. Run to Lowes? Nope. I blew out three black markers and two colored markers on that rough wood.

Next, how to hang it. I drilled two small holes (drills don’t generally maim) and ran a piece of wire through. I added a little flair with packing jute wrapped around the wire, using a knot I recalled from my macramé days. Then I added a little bow at either end.

Finally, to preserve the precious sign. No problem. I had spray polyurethane. I dragged the sign to a cement block outside. The spray container was useless—not empty, but clogged beyond hope and no pressure. Go to Lowes? Nope. I found a can of waterproofing—the kind you use on tents and hiking boots—and hosed down the sign. It sat outside to dry and get over the stench.

The next morning, I wrapped the handcrafted treasure in the gift paper I had on hand—luckily, birthday—and left for the party. My brother took one look at the sign and hammered a nail over one window in his little Internet studio for it to hang.

Whoever said the best things in life are free must’ve made gifts too. My brother's smile proved it.

Listen to Gabby’s show Monday through Friday, 8 till 10 p.m. EST.

Here’s the link: XMRB Internet Radio Station

Love you, bro!
Your "other sister," the one who writes novels and is near'bout as cathead crazy as you are,

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern twist

Rhett's author website
Rhett's writer's blog: Writers4Higher


Peggy Kassees said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Rhett! I can't imagine two of you out and about at the same time! Your family shindigs must be hilarious!

Roberta said...

I remember those days. Even when we all had money, a handmade gift was favored. Now we have so much stuff, we send food. No need for extra rooms or storage units.