Last Christmas our associate editor, J.T. Crawford, told me he had a great story for the 2017 holiday issue. “I’ve met these two brothers who flock Christmas trees, put the lights on, and then deliver them to customers,” he told me. “They’ve been doing this for years and their dad did it before them. So now the sons are actually delivering to a second generation. Sounds like a neat story.”
Sounded like a neat story to me, too.
So ten months later, here we were preparing for our cover shoot with the Williams brothers. Now I hope that you, our loyal reader, take note of how much time and effort we put into our cover images—from concept to composition to quality imagery.
So when J.T. told me he wasn’t sure the “tree-huggers” (we use that term with affection mind you) had anything that we might approve of in terms of “fashions” I set out on my mission to outfit two men I had never met with the help of Dillard’s Men’s Department.
Then just 24 hours before our photo shoot, J.T. got a call that our pseudo lumberjacks didn’t have a flocked wreath to use as a prop (as we had planned). I began to sense a failure in the making. In my mind I saw two grumpy guys in muddy boots squinting into the bright studio lights posing as stiff and unyielding as rusty barbed wire.
What a merry and bright surprise when, the morning we were to meet at Brad Rankin’s studio, I was introduced to two of the, without question, coolest tree flockers and funniest forest foragers in the land. These two guys could do stand-up comedy, and one of them actually did some modeling in college. I could not have been more mistaken.
Here’s where we go wrong. We’re lazy. We grab at stereotypical labels. We put people in categories of gender, religion, race, or profession. We skim the surface. We latch on to cultural clichés. We don’t look within. And when we employ these unsubstantiated assumptions, we deny ourselves, and others, the rare chance to experience something truly marvelous—the unexpected!
We all laughed about my misguided presumption and celebrated our newfound friendship. This Christmas may we each seek, and find, the gifts that can only be unwrapped by peeling back our prejudices.