by Suzanne Labry
Christmas in July
It was a blistering hot summer day some years ago, and I was driving home from work when a pickup driven by a teenaged boy passed me, going fast.
He and his passengers, two other boys, were talking and laughing. In the bed of the truck was a large piece of exercise equipment that was wrapped with what looked like an old packing blanket tied down with a rope. A red light forced both our vehicles to stop, and I pulled up behind the truck.
As I waited for the light to change, I noticed that the packing blanket had come loose from the rope on one end and had flapped up to reveal a corner. It was then that I realized it wasn’t a packing blanket at all. It was a quilt, and I could see part of a trapunto appliqué design on the exposed edge.
“Now that’s a shame!” I thought to myself. “Whoever made that quilt would be horrified to see it being treated that way.”
When the light changed to green, all reason left me—I knew I had to rescue that quilt! The pickup sped off and I followed right behind it, flashing my lights and honking. I could see the driver looking at me in his rearview mirror with a confused look on his face.
Finally, he pulled over to the side of the road and stopped and I pulled up behind him, got out of my car, and walked over to the pickup. The three boys stared at me with complete curiosity, clearly wondering why this crazy woman had flagged them down.
“I’d like to buy that quilt wrapped around your exercise equipment,” I said. The three boys exchanged glances.
“You mean that old blanket?” asked the driver.
“Yes! How much would you take for it?”
“Are you serious?” The boy—not sure of my mental condition to start with—was definitely filing me in the just-plain-nuts folder. His passengers were of like mind.
“Yes, really,” I responded. “How much?”
“$25?” he said, going for broke. The other boys were smiling, certain that their friend was about to make easy money for nothing.
“Sold!” I said, and I as I went to get my purse, all three boys got out of the pickup and untied the rope that bound the quilt. They handed me the “old blanket,” I gave them $25, and off they went, feeling very pleased with the transaction.
I felt pretty pleased myself. The quilt turned out to be a wonderful old Mexican Rose pattern—the flower petals and leaves heavily stuffed and set off with close quilting. There was one hole on the back, but all in all, it was in surprisingly good condition, especially considering its most recent treatment.
There was some fading of the olive green material that formed the flower stems, leaves, and sashing, but the red and gold fabrics in the flowers were still vibrant.
I didn’t feel guilty about paying so little for the quilt. The boy who sold it to me obviously did not value it and he got more for it than he thought it was worth. I like to think that the quiltmaker—his grandmother? Great-grandmother?—would have been glad to see it go to a good home where someone appreciated the work she had put into it.
And I do appreciate it. I bring it out at during the holidays to enjoy the quilt’s reds and greens. On that hot summer day years ago, that boy gave me a Christmas present!