It wasn’t that the whole family had to pay for it. No one had offered to do so, although they would take part in the credit when the 25th anniversary gift was opened and exclaimed and hung lovingly above the fireplace for all to see. It wasn’t as if the wedding portrait, an original oil painting of an old photo, was someone else’s idea, but some would probably say it had been.
It was an idea that had been forming in the back of my mind since last year when my grandparents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, which fell on Christmas Day. Twenty-five years of marriage doesn’t seem like a lot for grandparents, especially those with grandchildren in their forties, like me, but theirs was an incredible love story. They had both been married to other people in the aftermath of the Holocaust and later tragically lost their spouses – her to cancer, hers in a car accident – and then, to love each other again. Getting married later in life, with well-established and fully grown families, hadn’t been the easiest step. Different life paths, beliefs, and ways to properly cook a Thanksgiving turkey had been just a few of the many problems that arose among the newly mixed family members, but now it was time to get together.
It was originally an idea for a family portrait – to have a painting made with a photo taken of the entire family – brothers and half-brothers, children and grandchildren, grandchildren and grandchildren, but the idea had gotten bigger than I could handle. , so I had to have decided to simplify with a wedding portrait of my grandmother and their grandfather together on their wedding day, shrunken and wrinkled, old even then, 25 years ago, but happy, deliriously happy.
Since their anniversary fell on Christmas Day, I thought the original oil painting would make a unique Christmas gift idea and a memorable 25th wedding anniversary gift. They deserved something special to commemorate how far they had come. They knew about all the fights, even though we, the mixed family, always tried to hide the unpleasantness from them. Maybe it was too late to try to teach an old family new tricks, but they didn’t think so. Every son and grandson, grandson and grandson were loved by my grandmother and their grandfather as if they were flesh and blood.
They deserved something special. The thought kept spinning in my head. A wedding portrait would not be enough. I should have revived the idea of the family portrait. They deserved something as special as the whole family – the two who had tried so hard to make into one – gathered on one page, or at least one on a piece of canvas, happily frozen in a timeless collection. A session would never work, but a painting from a photo would. It wasn’t going to be easy, but then again, love, of any kind, never is. After all they had given it was worth it, the sighs and groans, unwelcome opinions and ideas, late arrivals at the photo studio and the huge cost of gifting my grandmother and their grandfather – mine. grandparents – the one thing they love most in the world, their whole family.
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