By Jen Bakken
Beginning as a $25 Menards gift certificate hidden between two pieces of wood has become a Christmas tradition for Rodger Vieau and Scott Beaupré.
This gift brings smiles and laughter to their holiday family gathering each year.
In 1995, Beaupré presented the gift to his brother in-law, Rodger Vieau, for Christmas. He put the paper gift certificate between two 2-by -4s and screwed them together.
In order to secure the certificate inside, he also used lag screws, bolts, and a metal band. Though it was difficult, Vieau did retrieve his gift, and the next year he returned it to Beaupré with added hardware.
The gift has continued to travel back and forth between the two men for the past 12 years.
With two working lights, (one which is controlled by a light switch), a doorbell, a brass boat prop, a working mixer (that they call a paint mixer) the gift has grown rather awkward, large and difficult to transport.
“I added duct tape one time,” Beaupré said. “You gotta have duct tape because it fixes everything.”
Sporting a mirror, a waterspout, a reflector, hinges, handles, and a crow bar one wonders what could possibly be added. However, they always seem to have ideas of what to add next.
In past years, they labeled the gift with what year an item was added. They have a story to almost all of the mechanical gadgets they’ve attached.
For a while, they hid notes inside the gift and once Beaupré included a poem.
“It was a racing poem,” laughed Beaupré. “Because he’s always injured.”
Anyone who doesn’t know these men may look at the traveling gift and shake their head in confusion, but their friends and family look forward to seeing it each year.
Vieau’s parents, Leon and Rosetta Vieau, host Christmas at their home, and the traveling gift is the last thing to be opened. They save the best for last.
Vieau grew up in Delano and graduated from high school in 1977. He now lives in Medina with his wife Chris and their two children, Jordan and Amanda.
One year he added his 1977 conference champion cross-country trophy to the unique gift.
In 2004 he added a volleyball medal because Beaupré had injured his meniscus while playing the game. The metal was engraved with the words, “trouble, pain, danger, injury, setback and meniscus.”
Beaupré lives in Independence with his wife, Karen, and their children, Marin and Chase. This year he added wheels to the creation after spending two hours in a tractor supply store trying to find just the right additions.
After enclosing the gift in two boxes, he used softener salt bags and duct tape to wrap it. He thinks he raised the bar this time.
“Yeah, it was really hard to get open,” remembered Vieau.
Not only are they brothers in-law, they are friends and also work out together one or two times per week at the Tiger Activity Center.
Starting in the spring, they run three or five times per week and they also enter many races together.
When asked what is in store for the gift next year, they laughed, saying it’s a secret.
Although, it’s uncertain what gadget or gizmo will be added next, it’s clear the gift will continue to be a tradition, and travel each year.