January 2, 2004

One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt

In the northern part of China families traditionally make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt, to welcome and celebrate a new life. It is customary to invite friends and family to contribute a piece of cloth and a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth is sewn into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth goes into a scrapbook with the wish for the child. The belief is that the quilt then contains the blessings from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric to it.

I absolutely love the sentiment behind this tradition and thought it was such a great way to have our friends and family be part of welcoming a new child into our family. I started by sending a letter to 40 or so of our family and friends. I told them they could send one piece of fabric representing their whole family or individuals pieces for each family member. I also participated in a fabric swap with other waiting families whose paperwork went to China at the same time ours did.

We received squares of fabric from across the country and around the world -- about 125 squares in all!

We are very fortunate that Eric's mom is a gifted artist and talented quilter and agreed to make the quilt for us. I sent her all of the fabric, she and I picked a pattern -- it's a pattern from the 1930s called "Drunkard's Path" -- and then she picked a beautiful pink print for the back of the quilt. I can not even imagine the incredible number of hours that she spent making this simply stunning quilt for us.

When I was collecting squares and Eric's mom was making the quilt, I knew we had requested twins but I also knew the likelihood of actually receiving a referral for twins was very slim so I never thought of asking her to make TWO quilts. Well, we got our referral and it was twins so I suggested we could cut the quilt in half. Eric's mom instead suggested that she make a second quilt using the pieces of the squares she had left! So back to her sewing machine she went and made a second quilt for Kenna.

The photos below show Michal's quilt "under construction" and then both girls on Michal's quilt shortly after they came home. The second set of photos are of Kenna's quilt.

I loved the process of actually assembling the fabric for the quilt. It felt like Christmas for me when the envelopes with the fabric and wishes arrived. It was so fun to open each one up and see what fabric the person had chosen and to read what they had written. It also made it seem real . . . these wishes were for a real baby waiting for us somewhere in China.

One of my most-favorite wishes is from my maternal grandmother, Ella Louise Heis. (Kenna's middle name is in her honor.) She sent fabric with ladybugs on it and a very sweet note. Ladybugs always remind me of her and the time I was at her house and her dining room window was covered with ladybugs -- on the inside. My grandmother passed away just a few months after we returned from China and shortly after she met the girls for the first, and only, time. It is so special to me that the fabric from her is in both girls' quilts. I hope someday it will be special to them too.

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