It seemed like just an ordinary day. Ok, maybe it’s your birthday. Heck, maybe it’s only Thursday. In any case, this unexpected….package…shows up at your door. You didn’t order anything.
You suspiciously eye the layer of packing tape that has encrusted what you’re pretty sure was once a cardboard box. Being ever so careful, you saw through it with the nearest razor blade, and little by little, the mystery–and the gift–starts to unfold.
It’s something made of fabric.
Hot pink and zebra print fabric, to be exact. It’s not awful–at least, it wouldn’t be if you were a 12-year-old girl….other than, perhaps, yourself at twelve years old…
As you pull it out of the packaging, you realize….someone has given you a quilt.
You don’t understand. How did this happen? WHY did this happen? And what could possibly be an appropriate response?
Chances are, you are the loved one of a creative person. Many people might receive such a gift from an aunt or grandmother, or in some cases a distant cousin or friend. (If the gifter was your Mother, I certainly hope this doesn’t need to be explained to you.)
In any case, what you have received, whether it is spot-on, or a million miles away from being, exactly, “you,” is a gift of love. It may not feel like it right now, but allow me to explain.
Today, quilting is big–among quilters. Everyone else is in varying strata around the quilters, ranging in levels of understanding from “I totally get it!” to….”So….why on earth would you cut fabric apart and….and…and….sew it back together?” Like many creative endeavors, but maybe in some ways, more so–quilting quickly becomes an obsession. Almost an addiction. It’s visual, it’s tactile, and it’s a way to create things–lots of them–all different, all with your own personal stamp, and all over the country and world. It’s hard to explain if you’re not involved. But, once you’re a quilter, it’s all you want to do.
So, let’s tie this affront to your eyeballs back to where it came from.
First, the quilter has an innate desire–a NEED–to create, and spends plenty of time doing it. She also does not have unlimited storage space where she can hang onto her work for the rest of her natural life. That said, a quilt takes a good amount of time and monetary investment to create. You were chosen as a recipient NOT because you “didn’t have one yet.” If you have received a handmade gift from its maker, you are very special to that person, and are considered worthy of such an investment of time. Most quilters know and love a lot more people than they ever have the resources to make a gift for–even in their lifetimes. Often, they do this kind of work for hire, which limits their “recreational quilting” even further.
“Seriously though….can you at least explain the zebra print?!?”
When someone sets out to make you a quilt, they do it with you in mind, start to finish. A lime green scrap in the border might remind her of the dress you wore to prom in high school. The zebra print was included because it kind of looks like that fuzzy thing hanging from the rearview mirror in your car. The violet section in the middle is there because she remembers how much you love purple, and while she was stitching it, she thought about how Halloween is your favorite holiday, and wonders which haunted houses you’ll be hitting this year–if she doesn’t already know.
She remembers the decor in your living room, and thinks of how well the chosen color scheme will go with it. She added that wine bottle print to the backing knowing how much you love a good Cabernet, and thinking about how much this gift will lift your spirits to receive while your new husband is overseas. While she’s sprawled out on the floor, pinning the top, batting, and backing together, she is thinking about that four-hour dinner you had at Chili’s when you first became friends.
Making a quilt for someone is not just work of the hands, but of the mind. Whether or not it actually shows in the piecing or fabric choices, this was a journey for the quilter, and one she took with you. She is now handing it over into your care, and hoping that you’ll understand this is the best way she can give herself to you in her physical absence.
Quilting sometimes becomes the language at which the creator is her most articulate. It isn’t meant to create any sort of obligation for you, (if you boiled it down to dollars and cents, it could be the most “expensive” gift you’ll ever receive), but more an expression of gratitude. A quilt made especially for you may just be the quilter’s way of thanking you for your presence in her life, and letting you know that who you are, and what you are or have been to her is valued…nothing more or less complicated than that.