This past week has been cold. Bitterly cold. Even my Northern Michigan blood was not prepared for the polar vortex front or whatever it was that moved through the region. One morning both my car wouldn’t start and our pipes were frozen, but thankfully we had help (and quickly) to take care of the latter. Geraldine, my old station wagon, just wanted the day off it seems as she was fine the next morning. I didn’t suffer much from the cold, other than the walks required by my dog. And even he was cold. Our walks were no more than 10 minutes those days, when normally he wanders for 30 minutes or more. Now that’s cold.
When I’m cold, I’d rather find a blanket and keep the heat turned down than vice versa. It’s cheaper (hurray lower utility bills!) and it seems more appropriate to the season anyhow. If it comes down to two options, would you rather wear a t-shirt and shorts around the house in January or be curled up with a cup of tea and a book under some warm blankets?
I have always been a bit neurotic about certain things being in order or knowing where things have come from. When it comes to blankets, I like to know their story, and I am spoiled by the narratives of my own blankets. Yes, really.
One of them came from my grandma’s house. It was a blanket we always used when we would stay there and, while it’s a pretty generic blanket to the unknowing eye, it always reminds me waking up to a big breakfast and grandma and grandpa’s house.
Two of them were hand-made by my great-grandmother, a tiny woman who entered the world before World War I began. She’s in the sunset of her life now and doesn’t always know names and details anymore, but the connection in those two blankets give me the sense that care and love have been alive for 100 years within them.
And my favorite blanket has three stories to it. It’s a quilt really of different cloth patterns made by my great-grand aunt. She and my grandma were sisters and she had the habit of making my grandma shirts. In this blanket, then, is the same swatch of fabric that she used for one of the shirts that my grandma always wore. Two cool stories already, but the kicker for me? My parents gave it to me as a gift for my ordination to the priesthood.
As children we have blankets for security and comfort and as we age into elementary school, the push is for us to detach ourselves from them. Society fears our attachment blankets as weird and pushes us to instead internalize or depend upon others. That’s all well and good, I suppose, because it would be quite odd if a university professor or basketball player had their favorite blanket with them at all times. I could see it getting in the way of a solid slam dunk, for example.
My blankets? I’m not sure it’s about security and comfort, but it is about remembering. For me, the blankets wrap me up in something more than myself. The blankets wrap me in the stories of important people. People you might not know, people who are both saints and sinners, people who are a huge part of the narrative of my life.
So if you come over to our house, grab a blanket. You’ll need it because I keep the heat set to about 65 F anyhow. And then ask where it came from. Odds are high that there are some stories worth telling about that blanket. But even if you don’t like the stories, at least you’ll be warm.