Quilts are time traveling hugs from granny

March 9, 2019


Those who value a good nap or crave a good night’s sleep are in a buzz about the new trend of using weighted blankets. Filled with tiny beads of plastic or glass, each blanket weighs somewhere between 5 – 30 pounds. Reports claim these heavy blankets release “happiness hormones” for a better night’s sleep.

Dawnellen and I laughed when we saw the blankets up at the Bed Bath and Yonder. “It’s a fad, and besides, who wants more hormones at night?” We decided we already own older versions of weighted blankets, but we call them “quilts.” Not just any new quilt, but the kind that is several generations old and lined with real cotton batting that gets quite heavy over the years.

Newer quilts use the poly-filled batting for the innards which makes them light and fluffy but the oldies are the goodies, and when folded and stacked together, create a solid heavy block.

My cousin and I thought it was great fun to sleep in the attic playroom at grandmother’s house in North Alabama. The roughly finished space was decorated with a little toy kitchen and hand painted flower vines on the walls. We spent hours playing up there and in childhood bliss, ignored the fact the only heat source had to drift up the tiny staircase.

Even when icy cold, we insisted on sleeping in the attic’s big iron bed. Our mothers would layer old quilts on top of us. One by one, they got heavier and heavier until we’d pretend, we couldn’t budge. The only moveable parts of our bodies were our mouths, so of course, we talked and giggled all night long while being pinned beneath the hefty stack of colorful warmth.

“Use what you have and don’t waste a thing” was the motto of old Southern homes. My mother can look at my quilts and tell me exactly which scrap of fabric was from her dress and which came from her sister’s. With large families needing warmth at night, quilts were a basic necessity, especially since most homes lacked central heating. Even the tiniest scraps were saved and put to use making the functional works of art.

A Southerner’s #1 talent is turning a chore into a party, and quilting was no exception. An otherwise boring task was spun into the quilting bee where socialization and a few cookies turned needlework into a team sport. Sharing skills with the younger women, quilting became a social event and I’m left wondering what exactly was being discussed and laughed about while my pretty quilts were being pieced together.

The companies that sell the new weighted blankets claim they give a sense of “security, safety, and calmness.” No kidding — just like the antique quilts. When I’m brave enough to pull one of my own treasured quilts around me and actually use it, I curl up by the fireplace and can feel all the joy, care and peace stitched into each puzzled shape. Just like the new trendy blankets, I’m weighted down with love. It’s sort of like a time-traveling hug, from my great granny, who was once again, way ahead of her time.

This story first appeared HERE on AL.com

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