By Angie Howard

Cold winter nights are made for staying home in front of a roaring fireplace underneath a warm, cushy quilt with a great movie and huge bowl of buttery popcorn.
Our family is all about piling up beneath some quilts at home in the wintertime. This is true for a few reasons; one being because my environmentally-minded ultra-conservative (aka "cheap") side won't allow the thermostat to be set above 68 degrees in the evenings, another because I believe my children have a genetic predisposition inherited by their father that I have affectionately dubbed the "Linus Factor" (a term coined in honor of Linus van Pelt, one of the "Peanuts" cartoon characters who walks around constantly dragging his blanket behind him).
When I married my husband, I married both him and his arsenal of blankets which have always been dotted strategically around the house so he can migrate from one to the other without ever having to be too far from any one of them. My kids are just like him, even the 6-month old baby who now screams after her little "mini-me" versions of quilts and blankets. This tendency I have actually come to find very endearing, and must admit, have even adopted myself. I am now a self-professed "Quilt Junkie" and proud of the fact, especially because my quilt is a particularly special one with a story behind each and every patchwork.
10 years ago this past September, my Dad left this life to be with the Lord. It was a huge shock to everyone, especially my Mom and I who saw him the morning of his accident, vibrant and healthy, then just hours later had to accept the fact we'd never see him that way again on this side of Heaven.
Shortly following Dad's death, Mom and I were faced with the everyday reminders that he wasn't here any longer; his office phone number programmed into our cell phones, fishing poles and golf clubs stacked neatly in the garage, and his clothes still hanging in the closet. During those first very hard days, seeing tokens of everyday life how we knew it with Dad was a mixed blessing. On one hand, it comforted us to stumble upon some remnants of "normalcy," but on another level it was very difficult seeing all his things with the knowledge he'd never be back to have a use for them.
Thankfully, my aunt who just happened to be a very creative quilter stepped in to offer a great solution for some of Dad's clothes that we weren't willing to part with. Rather than throwing out his polo shirts collected from decades of playing in area golf tournaments, my aunt took them and cutout beautiful heart patches from the insignias embroidered on the chest of his shirts. The heart patches from my Dad's shirts were then quilted into squares and later made into entire quilt which my aunt lovingly gave to me.
I don't think I've ever received a better gift. "Quilt Junkie" on that day I proudly became! Not only did the quilt first and foremost memorialize my Dad in such a beautiful and functional way, it also allowed Mom and me to be eco-conscious in managing some of my Dads things, reusing and repurposing his garments rather than throwing those clothes away.
My kids were born long after my Dad died; they know him by our looking at pictures of and talking about "PePop." My babies also love piling underneath PePop's warm and comfy quilt during freezing winter "Movie & Popcorn" evenings at home, and I love knowing the fact that even though God's plan called him home before my Dad could sit with grandkids on his lap, they are still able to be snuggled up in his love and my cherished memories of him.
You may consider making yourself a memory quilt from old high school or college t-shirts, uniforms, medical scrubs, or vacation destination sweatshirts. It is a great alternative to throwing out clothing items that are hard to part with, and environmentally-friendly by repurposing rather than trashing! Not to mention that cuddling up with a sentimental quilt makes home feel even cozier on a cold winter night!