Daughter makes Christmas gift out of 'good news' stories for mom discouraged by 'sad' media coverage

Teresa Crowley and Katelyn Harper hold up the “good news sunflower” painting, made up of bits of positive news stories to from all over the internet. (Photo: ABC 10)
Teresa Crowley and Katelyn Harper hold up the “good news sunflower” painting, made up of bits of positive news stories to from all over the internet. (Photo: ABC 10)

A woman in Shingle Springs, Calif., wanted to cheer up her world-weary mom this Christmas, so she showed up bearing a gift she knew would make her smile: a handmade sunflower mosaic comprised of bits of “good news” stories.

Katelyn Harper and her husband, Graham, researched, printed and clipped the upbeat headlines from various websites, then carefully arranged the little pieces of paper as petals of a big, bright flower. “For the most part, there’s kind of random bits and pieces, but they’re all positive news stories,” Harper said in an interview with ABC 10, pointing to words scattered within the painting, like ‘sharing’, ‘peace’, and ‘helping.’ She said her husband hand-selected each story and printed it out on white paper, then she took scissors and paint to the clips to create the mixed-media collage bearing inspiring words within.

Harper told Yahoo Lifestyle she usually gets her mom “lotions, bath bombs — kind of girly things,” but this year she wanted to give Crowley something more meaningful. She said she brainstormed the gift after one too many conversations in which Crowley expressed sadness and dismay about negative news coverage, especially the destructive Camp Fire. Crowley was so disturbed by the California wildfires, in fact, that she became part of the relief effort. “I’ve sent so many packages to strangers,” Crowley said. “But it makes me feel good to give them something when they’ve lost everything. Just a little bit of hope.”

Then Harper — who studies English at the University of Washington in Seattle but creates art in her spare time — remembered that Crowley had canceled her newspaper deliveries and had pretty much tuned out of the news. “I wanted to show her there is a lot of good news going on, but we don’t talk about it becausethere’s not a problem,” she said. So she broke out her watercolor paints and Mod Podge and got to work. “I had done another art piece and it turned out well,” she said. “So I decided to make a beacon of hope for her.”

Harper told Yahoo Lifestyle she chose to design the good news bits in the shape of a sunflower “because the heads of sunflowers follow the sun, so it’s literally a metaphor for finding the light.” [The painting] is one of those pieces you can hand down generation to generation to remind you to look at the bright side of things,” she told ABC 10. “There’s a lot of good going on in the world. A lot of the times it’s not prevalent. There’s more good in the world than evil.”

Crowley said her daughter’s custom piece is the best gift she’s ever received and was touched by the deeply touching intention and the recognition behind it. “Each time she put a piece of positive news story on the mosaic, she was thinking about me during this whole process,” Crowley told ABC 10. “It was wonderful, I was just touched … I was crying, and I’m not a big crier!”

But Harper’s gift of good news stories doesn’t end with the fine print pasted into her flower portrait. That’s because she made sure to include a QR code within the painting that, when scanned, leads to a Google doc that Crowley can visit anytime to read all of the positive news stories in their entirety online. She told Yahoo Lifestyle she’ll probably continue to update the doc with any good news stories she finds. “It’s timeless in that aspect,” she said.

Harper even made the Google doc public so anyone with a link can browse through the URLs and click through for their daily dose of sunshine.

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