Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

We played with the boxes first, for a whole week, well before we tore them open to see what was inside.

I'm all in for recycling, but one of the things we lose when we rush too quickly to toss them in the bin is all that value to be wrung from them before sending them to be remanufactured. "Reduce, reuse, recycle" is the mantra, to which I add, "in that order," to emphasize it refers to a process, not an either-or proposition.

I used to ask the Woodland Park families to save all their packaging and bring it into the school for the New Year. My idea was to make a huge mound of the stuff, to play with of course, but also to illustrate the mountains of waste we each create, but no one ever brought anything. Most only remembered after they'd already disposed of it.

So this is my own refuse collection. I like how children play with the boxes and bows, and they always do unless they're given something with a screen on it, or that puts them in front of a screen, then they just park it on a sofa with eyes still aglow, but as a flickering reflection instead of a light that comes from within. Nothing convinces me more of the narcotizing effects of screens than to see holiday packaging heaped in idle piles as glassy-eyed children "play" with their thumbs. It's just not natural.

If you call it "messy," I'm sorry, you're a humbug, at least for the next few days. This is the real wonderland of the holidays. 

It's good to have a grandpa around. He'll tell you that messes come and messes go, but in the big scheme of things most of us will be able to count on one hand the times in our lives we got to play like this, and even then we had to hurry because of the grown-ups who circled like vultures, starving to tidy it up.

There's is magic in the aftermath, probably because there are no instructions to read or rules to follow, except the ones we always observe out of respect for our fellow humans. And until they give in to their fetish for order, the grown-ups tend to enjoy watching their children play according to their own designs and passions.

It's not too late to pull it out of the recycling bin and toss it back on the floor. There's still a lot of magic left in it.

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Unknown said...

The box playing was one of the best parts of yesterday : )

Siusan said...

You just can't go wrong with a box. We got a stove box - large, thick, & sturdy - from our neighbor over a year ago. For a while Reid turned it sideways & spent afternoons in it on the back porch, pulling in a snack, a pillow, & a calvin & hobbes book. Then he upended it in his room & would stick just one paw out to receive deliveries of food. Now the box has moved upstairs & it might have been outgrown, which I cannot bear to face, so I continue to begrudge it a space in my attic office. I loved watching Reid nest for hours in his box. Something so animal about that, so primal & yet innocent & indicative of living in the moment. Maybe I'll start using the box. It's a nice space in there, especially if you position it to look out over the trees.

Juliet Robertson said...

Have your seen the book "It's not a box" by Antoinette Portis? I think it's there more to remind adults and children about the potential of a box.

I'm also grateful to my Mum and Dad who did not mind mess. They would let our toyrooms and bedrooms be ongoing play rooms where the occasional tidy took place but it was a rare event.

I'm also grateful to Carol Craig, founder of the Centre for confidence and Well-being who once remarked to me that organised brains can rarely have tidy environments.

SurprisedMom said...

As Charlie Brown once proclaimed, "That's It!"

Used boxes and bows and other Christmas recyclables bring out the imagination in kids much better than a flickering screen. You almost see their brains engage and their eyes light up. Childhood should not be neat. It should be messy and include paints, and glue, and glitter and of course, the magic.

Play for Life said...

“Thanks to my mother, not a single cardboard box has found its way back into society. We receive gifts in boxes from stores that went out of business twenty years ago.” - Erma Bombeck

Throughout the year each time I went to put a box into my recycling bin I would think of Erma Bombeck's words then add the box to the ever growing collection in my kitchen in readiness to deliver to kinder ... needless to say my husband cursed Erma's words on more than one occassion! Hee ... hee ... hee!