SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Dave Stetson is one of the best in the world when it comes to wood carving. He has spent thousands of hours in his workshop carving caricatures, many of them working on old Saint Nick.
Inside his home there are Santa carvings everywhere.
"Over 700," Stetson estimates.
Some are more special though.
"Every year I do a Santa carving for my wife," said Stetson, pointing out the ornate wooden carvings around his house.
Many of the hundreds of Santas were done by Stetson's wife, Michele. The two met, while carving Santas.
"She was good. She was probably the best in the country," said Stetson.
"No, not anymore," said Michele.
Eight years ago things changed.
"The moment you have a loved one that has a stroke, life stops," said Stetson. The workshop got lonelier. "She rarely goes out there now."
It was once their shared passion.
"Now I can’t, but...um...that’s okay," said Michele.
In an instant, everything changed. Christmas morning though, has not.
"The one thing I can do is carve a Santa for her," said Stetson. "She just sits there and looks at it and smiles."
Michele knows what gift is coming every year.
"Oh I love it. I love it," said Michele smiling.
It is not the design or painting though that brings Michele so much joy.
"They come from the heart. That’s all I can say," said Stetson.