My Special Christmas Present
Two weeks ago, my very dear, very special friend presented me with the most incredibly beautiful and thoughtful Christmas gift that I could imagine. It is a painting of the old Morris Essex Kennel Club dog show. All of my life, since well before my own involvement in dog shows, I had heard of this show. My grandfather showed his Springer Spaniels under the Seneca kennel name at it back in the 30's, and I own several old, wrinkled, faded black and white photographs of him with his dogs in the ring there. In one of them, you can see my grandmother, in her Sunday finest, complete with a hat she no doubt made herself, standing among the crowd at ringside.
The venue of the Morris Essex dog show was the Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge estate in Madison, NJ. In 1970, I began my adult journey at Drew University, which stands right across Loantaka Road from this estate. For the last 31 years, I have worked at Drew, and at least once a week, if not 5 days a week, I take my lunchtime walk along the path that borders the estate's eastern lawns upon which the show was held. I have never walked there, in all these years, without my mind's eye showing me the tents and the rings, the people and the dogs. I have always imagined my grandfather and his dogs there, and felt more deeply the connection to him that my own participation in showing dogs forged within me.
Last weekend, I drove down to Clinton to Hetzel's Framing to choose a frame for the painting. Yesterday, while visiting, my friend got to go with me to pick up the finished product. I think I picked the perfect frame. And I think we picked the perfect place in which to hang the painting. If you had told me the space above the mantel was crying out for something to be hung there, I wouldn't have believed you. If you had told me that one wall hanging could so totally alter the feeling in a room, I wouldn't have believed you. But it was, and it did.
My love, thank you. This painting does what you intended; it pleases me and it brightens my home. It is the perfect painting, in the perfect frame, hung in the perfect place. And it came from you, who please me and brighten my life. You are a gift beyond compare, the greatest gift of my life. I love you.