Some gifts steal your breath and you have to look away for a moment or two to catch it back.
That’s what happened to us Christmas Eve when we saw the painting our daughter Katherine had commissioned for us.
The artwork, painted by the very talented Hannah Ribbens, captures a moment in which our two newest family members learned they could fly.
That moment alone is reason enough for the contagious eye-welling that spread throughout the room when I unwrapped and held it out.
But, as the holiday rolled out, we also appreciated the many layers that gorgeous piece offered us all.
First is the mutual admiration between buyer and artist fostered by Katherine’s nearly lifelong friendship with Hannah’s brother Ethan, a talented artist in his own right.
Naturally, the art also celebrates the relationship between the two boys, who consider themselves brothers with all the ferocious squabbling and genuine love that relationship inspires.
And how about the connection between Katherine and those boys? I called her a fairy this holiday break during one touching scene in which she calmed down a riled up little boy by making his stuffed animals talk…ever…so…slowly… She built blanket forts and fraternal bonds so generously we all wanted to stop time so she could live with us forever.
She does, in a way, thanks to that gorgeous picture.
Someday I will have the painting professionally framed in the manner a piece like that deserves.
For now, though, it hangs proudly on our kitchen wall in a spot selected by the younger boy. I like to see it there because it reminds us all that, while this journey can be challenging, it also can be lovely, fun and exciting.
I like the message written on the painting’s inside: the sky’s the limit.
This is true of pilots, boys and love.