My Grand Desk

As I sit in my home office working on our Christian gift business, Atrio Hill, I’m contemplating some of life’s big events that have transpired at my desk. It’s no ordinary desk; it’s my beautiful, ornate, 6’ x 3’, dark, cherry wood desk. My wife found this grand bargain (more on her bargains in future articles) while we were living in Austin, Texas (we now live in the Chicago suburbs). We purchased it new from a Texas prison warden who received it as a gift from his inmates. The inmates hand crafted the desk in the prison woodworking shop (It must have been a minimum security prison if they were allowed to use sharp tools). Their skills as master craftsman are evident in every detail.

When you first step into my office and see this grand desk, it looks fitting for any corporate CEO in his/her work office. It’s pristine, with beautiful, polished wood and ornate trim. However, as you make your way to the front of the desk, it reveals a markedly different portrait. From the front, it shows the beat up “battle scars” from raising three kids. There are nicks, cuts, chips, scratches and even chunks of wood missing where the chair has been pushed in thousands of times over the years. The entire front edge has scrapes from where my daughters cut their teeth. It’s about three feet tall, so it was the perfect height to gnaw on when they would spend time with Dad and watch me work, or they would use the top as a drum for their hair brushes while they listened to music.

This is the desk we used as a family gathering place for countless hours of homework, and a place for my kids to hang out and play on the computer with their friends. It’s the place where we worked on the family finances, typed up the family chores and talked to our kids about life. It’s also the place where we prayed and made some of life’s biggest decisions for our family - where to go to college, job transitions, investments, selecting the perfect Christian jewelry, and home decor products for our business, writing up the family values and so much more. It’s the place where I would work after the kids “went to bed”. My son would always show up after I thought I had put him to bed (my wife, Lisa was with the kids all day, so it was my job to read a story and put the kids to bed in the evening). He would ask “Dad what’s you doing?” and I would reply “getting caught up on some work when you are supposed to be in bed” He would then say I want to do whatever you are doing daddy, and pretend to type on the computer.

Now after all of these years, as I sit here at my grand desk, I contemplate the day when my youngest daughter moves out and I can finally get my desk refinished and restored to all its glory when it left that Texas prison some 20 years ago. I admit, there were times when I would be very annoyed at every new scratch, dent or nick. But over time, I have come to appreciate every blemish as a reminder of the wonderful memories I have with my kids, and the fact that they have been an amazing blessing from God.

I will soon be confronted with the decision to restore my desk or leave it as a reminder of the great love I feel when I re-live those wonderful memories of my children growing up.

What would you do? Let us know your thoughts.

Oh, and did I mention, on the inside of the top drawer, written in purple ink: “I love you Dad!!!” and written in crayon on the bottom of the front drawer: “#1 Dad e”

God’s Blessings to you and your family!

Steve Stapella

President, Atrio Hill

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