The AA Blanket


As I covered my niece with the AA blanket, I realized how new it still looked. I smiled as I recalled that December afternoon about fifteen years ago, when my father spotted the American Airlines logo on a blanket in the laundry. Seeing that I had flown in on American the day before, he asked. ‘Oh? Do they give these away now?’ He knew that I could not afford to pay for it.
‘No.’ I said. ‘I swiped it!’
He was confused ‘what does that mean exactly?’
‘I took it off the plane.’ I said.
I could see the blood drain from my father’s face. ‘You mean, you STOLE the blanket?’
He was shocked. He could not believe that I would have stolen the blanket. He sat next to me, picked up the blanket and spent the next half hour expressing his disappointment in me. That was NOT how he had raised me. No matter how small or insignificant something was, if it was not mine, I had no right to STEAL it. I challenged that it was a promotional item and that the airlines actually expected travelers to walk away with some blankets. But he insisted that I was blurring the obvious. I had stolen the blanket. And that was unacceptable!

Man, I tell you, shame can turn a twenty three year old woman into a ten year old child. Well not shame entirely… PARENTS!  They always seem to be ‘bigger’ than you are… And so I confessed my sins and promised to return the blanket on my return trip.

Of course that never happened. As I landed at Heathrow, I knew that the blanket could be a most valuable piece of my wardrobe. And so I packed it into my rucksack and left the plane.

My AA blanket did not disappoint. As a poor college student, it ended up being the perfect red scarf on a cold winter day, a light cover up on autumn nights and extra seating for group study projects in my living room. And as I packed my belongings to return home, I wrapped some of my valuables and breakables into my AA blanket for safe keeping and stuffed it into a barrel bound for Saint Lucia.

Twelve years have passed and I’ve moved three times, but my AA blanket has always remained a bright red spark in my linen cupboard. I have lost count of the number of times my guilty conscience has tried to pay for the blanket, by purchasing overpriced, unnecessary, items from the American Airlines inflight magazine. Still, a hint of guilt remains. Though this was not the first item that I had ‘taken’ from an establishment, it was the first time in my adult life that I had disappointed my father.

Even so, I can’t shake this deep connection to my AA blanket. Like many items of sentimental value, it holds treasured memories. Not only from my college years, but from my daughter’s childhood – It was her favorite blanket growing up. And today, I smile as I see it being a source of comfort to my niece. I just can’t seem to let go…

Life is short… Hold on to things of sentimental value. And from time to time, reminisce.


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