By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN What began as a $25 Menards gift certificate between two pieces of wood continues as a Christmas tradition for Rodger Vieau and Scott Beaupré.
In 1995, Beaupré presented the gift to his brother-in-law, Rodger Vieau, for Christmas. He put the paper gift certificate between two two-by-fours and screwed them together.
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 13 years.
Over the years, many things have been added to the unique gift, including two working lights (one which is controlled by a light switch), a doorbell, a brass boat prop and a working mixer (that they call a paint mixer).
This year was Vieau’s turn to add to the gift, and it has grown twice in length with additions of an axe handle and closet pole. He also added a fishing reel, an old tractor seat (mounted with a board and brackets), a handle grip (to the pry bar), a hand crank, and miscellaneous other hardware.
“He moved the boat prop and the water spigot to the back,” said Scott Beaupré. “The pry bar to the top, the trophy to the side, and had to re-wire the lights, the outlet, and the doorbell. I already have some great ideas for this year.”
There’s a story to go along with nearly every mechanical gadget added to the traveling gift. In past years, they labeled the gift with what year an item was added. For awhile, notes were hidden inside, and once, Beaupré included a poem.
Those who aren’t familiar with these men may look at their “gift” and shake their head in confusion, but their friends and family look forward to seeing it each year.
Vieau grew up in Delano and graduated from Delano High School in 1977. He now lives in Medina with his wife, Chris, and their two children, Jordan and Amanda.
Beaupré lives in Independence with his wife, Karen, and their children, Marin and Chase.
Last year, he enclosed the gift in two boxes, used softener salt bags and duct tape to wrap it, and thought he raised the bar for the next year.
“It’s a good thing Christmas only comes once a year,” he said. “Otherwise this thing would get out of control, well . . . moreso than it has already. Pretty soon we will need a trailer to move it around.”
If one wonders what the gift will grow to include next year, these men are sure to keep them guessing and admit their ideas are always kept 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.