Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The most amazing gift

Have you ever received a gift that made you cry? I never had until yesterday. My mother-in-law did the most amazingly thoughtful gift. In Ben's family, we draw names in August. It remains anonymous who's name you drew, and typically you spend the 4 months until Christmas trying to come up with a thoughtful and unique gift. Ben's family is enormously talented, and some of the gifts are unreal. His mom drew our name, and she decided to make us something to help us remember our childhood. She decided to make us each a quilt, as she has recently discovered a new hobby of quilting. Ben opened his gift first - it was a huge quilt made from all of his old sports jerseys from when he was young. It was wonderful.

Then, she brought out my present. She also wanted to make me a quilt to help me remember my childhood, so she decided to make me a landscape quilt of a scene from my grandparents' farm house. She had never made a landscape quilt before, so she thought she'd give it a try.

First, a little history: I grew up visiting my grandparents' farm house in Western Maryland. They owned a 200 year old stone farmhouse on a civil war battlefield (I say owned, because it was sold last year due to my grandfather's declining health). The house was used as a hospital during the battle of Antietam, and has now been restored. The adjacent mill on the property once had a large wheel out front, and was the town mill. It's actually no longer a working farm - in fact my grandparents were never farmers (he was an executive for a large corporation). The farm was such a quaint and wonderous place - almost spiritual because of its historic and nostalgic significance. I have so many fond memories of playing there as a child - exploring the fields and adjacent Civil War cemetery, trout fishing in the river on the property, and using a metal detector to find old relics.

My grandfather was meticulous in his restoration and maintenance of the property. Inside, every attention to detail was made, and things were refurbished as close to how they would have originally looked. Even the furnishings were antique. On the outside, the 14 acres were immaculate. My grandfather especially loved flowers, and had an amazing talent of making things grow.

Anyway - now that I have rambled on about my most fond childhood memory, I want to post a picture of the quilt. The quilt is about 2'x3', and framed under archival glass. Its the most amazing thing I've ever seen - I've posted some pictures. Keep in mind that this is the first landscape quilt my mother-in-law has ever made.

Here is the original photo that would become the quilt. The door in the foreground led to the cellar, where my grandma kept an endless supply of otter pops. The other door leads to the kitchen (if you're interested, you can see some other pictures of the farm. Of course, you'll have to wade through some other photos of my grandparents' 60th anniversary party). Something that my mother-in-law didn't even know, but that makes this even more special, is that my sister took this picture, and my dad laid the stone in the walkway.

Here is the quilt. This picture doesn't do it justice. Every piece is individually hand-quilted. The colors didn't come across very well in the scan.

I know I've used the word amazing 100x, but it really is. Somehow, she conveyed the spirit of the farm. Looking at the picture, I can smell the unique smell of the farm. I feel like I'm there.
Here are the 2 pictures side-by-side. Notice the detail, especially in the stone. Every piece matches almost exactly.

I didn't even know how to react - hopefully it was the right reaction. I cried - bawled like a baby. Its the most amazing thing anyone has ever done for me.


Jan said...

That's absolutely amazing. I have tears too after reading the history of the gift and then seeing what she did for you. What a lovely, loving gift. Wow.

Christensen Family said...

I love the quilt!! I can't believe how thoughtful that is!! I love that idea.... You're so lucky to have such a great family, on both sides.

Lily said...

What a beautiful, amazing gift!

Kari said...

Wow, it made me cry just reading about it! That is amazing, what a wonderful gift. I wish I had talent to do something like that!

Christie said...

Talent? Hah! My only talent is making others look good! I don't fit in with Ben's artistic family (or my own for that matter)