“The Magic Closet,” New Era, Mar. 1988, 20
Mother’s closet was magic! It was full of wonderful fabrics. There were cottons, challises, and ginghams for the best doll clothes in the neighborhood. Denims for the strongest jeans and book bags. Velvets and satins for the prettiest dresses, and dozens of other fabrics that I wouldn’t know the names of for many years to come. The fabric closet was magic because it was never empty.
My father died when I was 14 (leaving Mother with eight children, ranging from 15 years to 5 weeks old), and the fabric closet became our clothing store. We would go to the closet and pick out what we wanted, and then mother would either sew it for us or help us make it ourselves. Even my brothers learned to sew this way.
Mother would often give fabric away, much to my disappointment. Boxes at a time would be given to struggling families or others in need. At a time when we were often uncertain about where our next meal would come from, my mother would give away the only source of clothing we had. She tried to console me by saying that there was still plenty of fabric for our needs, and how could we expect the Lord to help us if we would not help others? In all the selfish wisdom of a 14-year-old, I would try unsuccessfully to convince Mother that fabric does not reproduce itself and even her faith was not enough to do that. She didn’t seem to worry about it and continued to give fabric away to those in need. All this time the closet was never empty. It was a magic closet!
Years later, after I was married, with two daughters of my own, my mother gave me several boxes of fabric from the magic closet. My husband was a student at BYU, and we were struggling to make ends meet, so the fabric was indeed a blessing.
One day while at a church activity, I turned to see a new family in our university ward. As the young mother walked past, the Spirit whispered, “Give her some of your fabric.” I had learned from my mother’s example, and from a mission to Italy, that to deny the promptings of the Spirit could often bring drastic results. So I found out who the young mother was and invited her to go through my fabric if she would like to. (She later confessed that her children were growing out of their clothes and there was no money to replace them.) As she sorted through the fabric and picked the pieces she wanted, I felt my heart sink. I did not have the money to replace the precious fabric either, and my children needed clothing too. But the Spirit whispered peace, and I knew that things would work out. Two weeks later a ward member came to my home with three large boxes of fabric and children’s clothing. She was moving and wondered if I could use them. I took what I wanted and gave the rest away. Once again my closet was full.
Later that year I gave more fabric away. Again my closet was magically filled by someone else.
One day when I finally realized the more I gave away, the more I received in return, I said to my husband: “The girls need some new clothes. I guess it’s time to give away some fabric.” It worked every time! I either got clothing (in the sizes I needed) or fabric I could use to make the clothing.
The “magic” has continued to this day, and I have since compared it to the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30). As long as I continue to share with those in need, I always have enough for my own needs. When I become selfish and hide my “talent,” it starts to diminish.
My mother’s magic closet is still full of wonderful fabrics. Mine is full also. There are those among us whose magic closets have flowers or vegetables or fruits in them. Others have comfort, and some have friendship to give away. When we finally discover “from whence the magic cometh,” it will be for all of us as in Matthew 25:29, “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” [Matt. 25:29]