Once, in a Quilt-maker’s basket, there lived a scrap of fabric. All the other scraps in the basket had something special about them: some were smooth and soft, others were warm and furry, and still others had bright colors or pretty patterns. But this scrap was dull and ugly and rough.
The other scraps teased him. “The Quilt-maker will never choose you,” said a scrap of silver satin. “Not when she could choose me. Look how I glimmer in the light!”
“Or me!” said a golden scrap who had shining sequins sewn onto her. “I could dazzle anyone!”
“Any quilt with you in it,” said a scrap of sensible navy wool, “would be an embarrassment.”
The little scrap drooped. The other scraps were right – he was dull and ugly and boring. No one would want him in a quilt. A piece of cream poplin brushed past him. “You never know,” she said. “Maybe the Quilt-maker will make a quilt for someone she doesn’t like. Then it wouldn’t matter if it was ugly.”
Even though she had meant to be mean, the poplin’s words gave the little dull scrap hope. Maybe the Quilt-maker would make an ugly quilt. He wouldn’t mind, not at all. At least then he’d have a home – and no one would tease him anymore. So he waited near the top of the basket, hoping that someday the Quilt-maker would choose him.
Months passed, and many new scraps came and went. The beautiful scraps, the ones that were silky or shiny, warm or soft, didn’t stay for very long, some spending less than a day in the basket before the Quilt-maker took them out again. The little dull scrap began to grow tired of the other scraps’ taunts, but still he stayed near the top of the basket, waiting and hoping.
One day, just before Christmas, the Quilt-maker’s hand reached into the basket. She sifted through the scraps, looking for the right one to use. She picked up a scarlet scrap of silk.
“Ah ha!” he called to his friends. “She likes my color. She’ll choose me, no doubt!” But as he spoke, the hand lowered him back into the basket.
Next she chose a warm, soft piece of fleece. “She likes my warmth!” he called. “She’ll use me for sure.”
But he too returned to the basket.
At last the Quilt-maker came to the little dull scrap. She lifted him gently out of the basket and peered at him through her glasses.
“Yes,” she whispered. “This is just what I need.”
The little dull scrap could hardly believe it. How could Quilt-maker need him?
Soon the Quilt-maker finished the quilt. Everyone who saw it exclaimed over its beauty, and the Quilt-maker entered it into a quilt show. The little scrap knew that he didn’t make the quilt beautiful, but the idea of going to a show excited him so much that it didn’t matter.
The day for the show arrived, and all the entrants hung up their quilts. The Quilt-maker hung her quilt opposite a large window and placed her nametag on the wall next to it before wandering off to have a look at the other entries.
The little scrap of fabric sat contentedly, watching the people pass by. Many of them stopped to admire his quilt. Some even stepped forward to examine it closely. He’d never seen so many people before, and it was all very exciting.
At last it was time for the judging. The sun sank towards the horizon and the crowds thinned, giving the little dull scrap some time to think. He couldn’t believe how many people had come to see the quilt that he was so fortunate to be a part of. He’d even had a sneaking suspicion that a few times, some of the people had been looking at him.
But he must have imagined it, considering how ugly and insignificant he was. And after all, he was just one piece in the whole quilt.
The judges arrived, and inspected every inch of the quilt with great care. They stopped to admire the lovely colors of the fabric that the Quilt-maker had used for a woman’s dress. They exclaimed over the brightness of the star at the top of the quilt. They wondered at the detail in the people’s faces.
Finally, they turned to the middle of the quilt where the little dull scrap waited nervously. A gentle finger reached out to touch him, moving over his rough, unfinished surface.
“It’s perfect,” they whispered to each other.
The little scrap stared in disbelief.
The judges drew away to confer with one another, heads bowed, whispering. Then they straightened, and addressed the room. “This is the final quilt,” they said, “and it is by far the best. We declare this quilt the winner.” A cheer went up from the crowd and they parted to let the Quilt-maker through.
As they did, the little scrap looked up at the window. Night had fallen, turning the glass into a mirror.
He hadn’t seen the quilt before, and he stared. There he sat, right in the very centre of the quilt. A golden glow streamed out from all around him, and people knelt and presented gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. But that wasn’t the best part. Just above him lay a small scrap of purest white, sewn in the shape of a baby. And as he sat watching the reflection while the crowd celebrated below, he realised what he had become.
He was the manger, and even though in the basket he’d been ugly and boring and rough, the Quilt-maker believed he was special enough to hold the newborn saviour.