A Quilter’s Christmas Carol

With Thanks to Charles Dickens for the Holiday Inspiration…

“Bah humbug,” I thought, as I sat sewing late Christmas Eve. “Nobody wants quilts for Christmas these days.” Tired and dejected, I laid my head down on the sewing machine. “Why do I bother?” I said aloud, as weariness overtook me.

The clock chimed midnight, startling me. Looking up, I saw a spirit, scissors in one hand, needle and thread in the other. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Quilting Past,” she said. “Come with me.”

Suddenly, I found myself watching a woman tenderly cutting pieces of fabric from a worn dress. With no electricity, she sat close by a slowly burning fire, stitching the scraps together by hand. The pattern she’d chosen wasn’t simple, and she was obviously taking a lot of care with her stitches.

The Ghost of Christmas Quilting Past smiled gently. “She’s making a quilt for her daughter. Unable to afford new material, the dress was a favorite of the girl’s, now outgrown. During the day there’s never a minute’s rest, so these few stolen moments late at night are all the time she has. Still, she’s determined to finish the quilt so her daughter has something to open Christmas morning.”

“I’m sure her daughter appreciated it,” I replied. “But this happened decades ago. People did more with less back then, and were grateful for simple pleasures. It’s not the same now.”

“Ha!” The loud laugh startled me, and turning, I saw a second spirit, this one holding a rotary cutter and bobbin. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Quilting Present,” she said. “And not as much has changed as you think.”

The scene transformed around me. A gas fireplace burned, but twinkling lights on a Christmas tree provided much of the room’s glow. A quilted tree skirt peeked out from under wrapped boxes while a man and woman placed small gifts in quilted stockings hung from the mantle. They were obviously taking care not to wake two small children, who slept nearby with a plate marked ‘Cookies for Santa’ set hopefully between them.

I smiled, then saddened. “It’s lovely to see, but, really, the children will be just as happy come Christmas morning whether their gifts are on a quilted tree skirt or not. And stockings are nice, but not…” I lost my train of thought as a third spirit appeared.

Holding nothing and draped in threadbare black cloth, this phantom neither moved nor spoke. Filled with dread, I cried out, “Are you the Spirit of Christmas Quilting Yet to Come?”

Not answering, the spirit pointed and I turned to look. My sewing room sat unused, a thick layer of dust covering the ironing board, cutting table and sewing machine. Yards of fabric were strewn about the room, faded and worn. Before I could even gasp at the horror of it all, the scene changed again – a child’s bedroom, the heat long since turned off for the night, yet a cold wind still blew outside the windows. ‘TIMOTHY’ was carved on his headboard, but without a warm quilt to cover his bed, tiny Tim lay shivering.

I cried out, “No, Spirit! No! Hear me! I am not the quilter I was. I will respect the Past, live in the Present and stitch together a new Future. I will honor Christmas quilting in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”

YES! I awoke in my sewing room to find only moments had passed. “It’s Christmas Day! I haven’t missed it.” I set about my quilting with a renewed sense of promise, and, as the sewing machine hummed once again, I thought I heard a voice, a little boy’s voice, ring out with a heartfelt holiday wish for all, “God bless Us, Every One!”

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