Herbert was embarrassed. He was humiliated. His father had been a proud barn quilt square. His mother had been a proud barn quilt square. They had both sold to adoptive barns within a month of being painted. But Herbert had languished unsold for months. He was despairing of ruining the excellent family name.
The county flea market was held the first Sunday of every month. It was crowded that first Sunday in December. Christmas was close and people were out shopping to their hearts’ content. But, although the artist was happily selling various barn quilt squares, still Herbert just sat there, sitting against a pole, going nowhere.
A young family strolled by with a little girl and little boy in tow. They were arguing about how Santa knew one house from the other when, obviously, he couldn’t check street signs or numbers as his sleigh flew by. Herbert sighed. They wouldn’t be buying anything from his artist. If they had street signs and numbers, it was unlikely they had a barn to put a quilt square on. With his luck, they probably lived smack dab in the middle of town.
The argument was because the little girl had been sorely disappointed last Christmas. She had thrown all her efforts in her letters to Santa into getting an American Girl doll. She had gotten a doll, yes. But it wasn’t an American Girl doll. This year she was determined to try again. She was positive that Santa just got the wrong address last year.
The children stopped suddenly at Herbert. They stared and stared at Herbert. The wheels were turning in the little girl’s head. She just knew Santa would be able to see Herbert from the sky.
The pestering began. The way children love to pester. They wanted Herbert. The parents were reluctant. “But we don’t have a barn!” “Barn quilt squares are put up on barns!” “And we have no barn! We live smack dab in the middle of town!” The little boy saw the advantage to having a sign for Santa too since he wanted a talking map. So he chimed in, “The roof! We can put it on the roof!” For some reason that the children couldn’t fathom, the parents couldn’t see that happening. Parents can be so unimaginative.
But these parents weren’t. In fact, they were rather eccentric. They weren’t stupid, they didn’t want their roof harmed, but they were a wee bit strange. “Well,” they agreed, “We do have a chimney.”
And Herbert was adopted. He was a little too wide for the top of the chimney, but the children thought it could still be seen, if not by Santa, then by Rudolph.
The little girl received her American Girl doll from Santa. The little boy received his map. They both were sure their chimney quilt square had done the trick. Happy Herbert knew better. But he wasn’t about to break it to the children. That was for their parents to do someday.