Grandmother Hen is pleased to share this heartwarming grandparent story with you.
“America’s florists may urge us to ‘say it with flowers,’ but my grandmother speaks in a language of yarn. She says it with blankets, crocheting colorful afghans to spread her love all around her family and her community. Every birth, move and marriage is marked by one of these tangible measures of her affection.
Grandmama can whip up an afghan in no time flat. Her hands fly through the yarn like a bird through a cloud. Catching the yarn with her crochet hook and drawing it through the loops, her hands are a wild blur of motion. Her workstation is a rocking chair and her metronome is cable TV. She tirelessly crochets her way through football, basketball and baseball seasons; countless repeats of The Golden Girls; and encore episodes of The Lawrence Welk Show.
I wish I could say I inherited this knack for needlework, but it isn’t so. When I was younger, my grandmother valiantly attempted to pass on this special art to me, but her left-handed method didn’t quite translate to my right-handed ways. After about five hours of crocheting and unraveling, all I had to show for myself was a single chain of yarn about four times my height. Subsequent forays into cross-stitch and plastic canvas made it abundantly clear to everyone that I lacked the patience and coordination required to master the needle arts, so I moved on to hobbies requiring a little less domestic dexterity.
While I don’t share her gift, I do bask in the memories her afghans evoke. Each one she makes for us becomes a woven monument to a milestone, and the maps of our lives can be traced back through the threads of our blankets.
As babies, we were welcomed into the world with soft swaths of pink or blue. From childhood, I’ve known that you’re not really tucked into bed on a blustery night until you have your toes weighed down by the heft of one of Grandmama’s afghans. If you can still move under the covers, you probably ought to add another blanket.
As teenagers we were ushered off to college with afghans rendered in our new school colors to ward off the chill of drafty dorms. When I went to Ole Miss, I didn’t go alone. I took along a red-and-blue blanket to remind me that I had a fan back home.
As we’ve grown older, we’ve begun requesting these cozy throws to give to special friends who are getting married or having babies. Due to their high demand within the family, we have to wait our turn and put in our orders early, lest the baby start walking before the blanket arrives.
Receiving a blanket has now become a rite of passage for new spouses entering our clan. Like the emblem of an exclusive club, possessing an afghan is the coveted mark of initiation. On my husband’s first Christmas with my family, he knew he was fully accepted when there was a blanket under the tree for him. That gift said, ‘You’re in. You’re one of us.’
When my brother-in-law received his blanket upon joining our fold, he expressed amazement that something so full of holes could keep you so warm. But I’m not surprised. I’m convinced that those holes are filled with love.”
Libby Monteith Minor, courtesy of Southern Living magazine