Imagine it's your 20th wedding anniversary, then ask yourself the following question: Would you rather take a tropical island vacation or would you rather get some new furniture?

On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer proposition. The warm climate, sandy beaches, and stunning views of the tropics have an undeniable appeal. Furniture, though practical, would generally be considered less desirable given the two options. One Ohio husband, however, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a personalized anniversary gift made with love can be just as powerful as paradise.

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In an exclusive interview with SF Globe, Chris, from the YouTube channel Chop With Chris, gave some insight on how one very special gift to his wife Mary came to be, stating, "When I asked what she wanted for our 20th anniversary, she said either a vacation to Hawaii or a dining room table." Chris decided that he would forgo the Hawaiian vacation suggestion and instead gift Mary a table, but he would make sure it turned out to be a table like no other.

Chris was going to craft the table himself, by hand, and without the assistance of a single electrical power tool. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that Chris had no background in construction. In fact, he told SF Globe that prior to 2006 or 2007, he had "never more than whittled a stick." It was around that time when he was shown a video of a man named Dick Proenneke, a retiree who moved to Alaska armed with a video camera and some very basic tools.

Chris watched videos of Proenneke constructing bowls, furniture items, and even a log cabin using nothing more than simple hand tools. "Strangely, I was inspired to try this 'no power tool' approach," Chris says. His first attempt attempt at this method occurred when he took some of his father's chisels and went to work on a piece of wood he had found. The result was, as Chris puts it, "the ugliest bowl you've ever seen."


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Chris From Chop With Chris

According to Chris, his wife Mary says it looks like a stomach (Chris agrees), but in spite of the bowl's appearance, he was hooked. "It just took me!" he says.

"All I could think about that night was how I was going to make the next bowl, how I was going to canvas the flea market for tools I needed, and how long before morning so I could get started," Chris tells SF Globe. From that moment on Chris developed a seemingly insatiable appetite for creation, and for flea markets, where he describes himself as "a lion looking at a herd of wildebeest — I can just smell the rusty old tools."

A few years later Chris had a few small projects under his belt, so when his wife suggested she was interested in either a new dining room table or a trip to Hawaii for their 20th anniversary in November 2010, Chris was eager to tackle the bigger challenge. 

It would be the first large piece of furniture he had ever tried constructing in his life.

Over the next six months, Chris says he "never for a second wished for Hawaii." Instead, he worked diligently in the depths of his basement using his hands, saws, clamps, glue, chisels, heart, brain, back, shoulders, arms, and loads of ibuprofen to get the job done. "It was a wonderful anniversary gift to my wife, but for me, the experience was Priceless!" explains Chris, who reveals that "This hobby exercises and rewards my body, mind, and soul."

A story like Chris and Mary's brings to light commonalities between relationships and trees as well.

Above the surface they both appear strong and ever-evolving, while below the surface they are anchored by a complex network of roots that provide a foundation for stability and growth. It's their imperfections, however, that make every relationship and every tree uniquely beautiful.

In Chris' "how-to" video, he explains that one of his most important design objectives when building this table for Mary, was to "Bring out the beauty of the imperfections." His philosophy is, "Don't hide them, show them off."

The table, which was made of reclaimed and repurposed chestnut barn wood and rough sawn walnut, came to a grand total of $408 when the project was all said and done. You simply can't put a dollar amount on a moment like this, though. "Occasionally I re-watch the video and it still brings tears to my eyes," admits Chris.

Chris and Mary aren't the only people who were moved by his amazing anniversary gesture. He posted the video below to his YouTube channel in an effort to "share my wonderful experience with others," he says.

The clip shows a condensed version of the lengthy process Chris went through to make the table. "The Priceless Gift," he calls it. The proud husband knew the video was special when, as he tells SF Globe, someone "ripped the video off my YouTube channel, posted it to their Facebook page, and it spread to 50 million people."

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Chris From Chop With Chris

When asked if he had started thinking about how he would top this gift for future anniversaries, Chris says that for their 25th anniversary they plan to take a trip out to California, but for the 30th anniversary, he states, "I am guessing Hawaii will rise to the top!"

Perhaps when they make it to Hawaii, Chris will build a handmade log cabin for them to lodge in.