December 21st, 2018: Arizona was especially cold this winter. As my family & I admired the illuminated cacti at the Phoenix Zoo, fond memories of this Christmas tradition added an extra glow to the similarly decorated mesquite trees that lined its walkways. Mountain lions, gila monsters, roadrunners, snakes and all manner of desert creature scurried to the surface in decorative form, amidst the chatter of sneakers and other slow moving families trying to keep warm. As I cradled my paper cup of hot chocolate in my hands, grateful for each sip, I saw a saguaro cactus strung with brightly colored bulbs next to a howling coyote. “I still need to glue on those needles,” I thought, picturing the half-finished art project which would become this year’s Christmas gift for my mother: a paper cactus.
Firmly believing that birthdays make the best deadlines for artists, holidays are an equally powerful motivator. Fueled by the giving spirit of the season, I began crafting this cactus (seen below) in LA, finishing it back home in Arizona after an inspirational trip to the Phoenix Zoo. Just as the resilient desert plant stores water for the dry seasons ahead, I treasure these trips back home to charge my emotional batteries for the droughts in my life, giving back to those who mean the most to me. This year, I chose to leave my mom with a cactus, a model of perseverance and stubbornness…two of her finest qualities. By making something from the heart, why not choose to leave a part of your spirit with someone you love, instead of something factory-assembled? A new tradition, perhaps?