When we were married 14 years ago, my husband and I received a crocheted afghan from a good friend of my parents. I was amazed that anyone would spend so much time making a wedding gift for a virtual stranger.
A few days later, my husband and I left for what would be our new home. Warming my legs against the December chill was the afghan. My hands caressed its soft texture as my mind ran circles wondering what married life would bring.
Our first home was a tiny motel room. We cooked our food in an electric pot and refrigerated it on the windowsill. The afghan added a much needed homey touch to the cinder-block room.
Our next house was an old home in the mountains. That winter was very cold. My husband worked till one in the morning, we didn’t have a phone, and the wood stove barely kept the chill out of one room. I was expecting our first baby and didn’t feel well. I was even sometimes frightened by the night sounds. The afghan became a haven for me. Later, our baby daughter joined me, and both of us snuggled together under the warm afghan. Each following pregnancy meant more rest time under the afghan and one more little one with whom to share it.
We have moved 15 times since we were married. Each time I pack one special box labeled “house to home.” Inside I put all the pictures and other treasures that I need to make my new home feel right. The afghan goes in first and cradles everything else as we travel. This is one of the first boxes we unpack.
Often, the afghan has seemed to be an extension of my mothering. I have tucked it in over a sick child or one who didn’t seem quite warm enough. We snuggled under it when traveling cross country to visit grandparents. It has gone to the fireworks on Independence Day, ball games in the fall, and camping trips in the summer. When company comes to spend the night, it can keep warm two little ones on the floor or an adult on the sofa. It spent a week in the hospital, four days at camp, and a morning in kindergarten at show-and-tell. It has been fought over, turned into a tent, and used as a “giggling monster.”
The toaster, mixer, casserole pans, and crystal pitcher we received for our wedding are all gone. While the afghan is no longer new, it still has a lot of warmth to share. Sometimes I wonder what we would have done without it.
Years ago I wondered why my parents’ friend spent so much time making an afghan for a couple she barely knew. I realize now that, in her own gentle way, she was sharing the knowledge of homemaking she had gained while raising her own family. Her gift helped me learn that as we face life’s challenges, it is the simple things that make a house a home: prayer, scripture reading, music, hugs, kind words—even an afghan.