Monday, January 24, 2011

Not So Sentimental

I received this awesome birthday card yesterday, one of these cards that lights up, sings, dances, and will even wash your dishes. Okay, so I may have made that last part up, but you get the idea. This is a top-of-the-line Hallmark, featuring Snoopy and friends decked out in park ranger hats sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows. An unobtrusive green circle boasts the words, "press here," and just like Alice, I cannot resist such simple instructions. To my delight, when button is pressed, the campfire lights up in multi-colored splendor and the card begins to play a simple guitar version of "Home on the Range," complete with birds chirping and crackling campfire sound. And you know what my first thought was? "Oh, what a lovely sentiment." Nope. "I love this song, it reminds me of watching Westerns in my childhood." Wrong. My very first thought was, "I wonder if I can take this card apart and use it to make a fireplace in my next doll house." My brain was racing with ideas on how to arrange the tiny lights, on how to make the switch look authentic, whether it should be concealed under wall paper or out in plain view. I wondered if the tiny wires would be long enough for me to hang the speaker above the mantle and disguise it as a clock or a piece of artwork. The thought never occurred to me that by tearing apart my card I would in some way be thumbing my nose at the sender or profaning its purpose. I know people who have boxes full of cards they have received over a lifetime, categorized by date and event, cross-referenced by sender. Not me. I am the girl who cut apart all her wedding cards and used them to decorate my scrapbook. I have no idea who sent the card fragments, only that they were warm wishes sent my way for a special day. But in so transforming these pieces, I have incorporated them into something more personal. Something of greater meaning, not just lines of text written by a professional to illicit a certain emotion by the reader. And I feel no shame at having destroyed another artist's work to create my own. The card was bought and paid for, if not by me. Art may be something meant for the purpose of sharing our humanity, but it is also part of culture, and a commodity meant to be bought and sold. There are very few pieces which transcend this purpose, and they are hanging in museums, not for sale for $7.99 at your local Rite-Aid. (I told you it was a good card.)


  1. Ahhhh yes.......I am the one with the cards in the box. I think I have years of cards actually.......but its because I love cards. I enjoy
    Goig back and reading them sometime later
    And recalling how I felt when I read it the first time. I'm sure mom won't mind if you cut up the great card she bought long as you make something great out
    Of it!

  2. Yeah, I figure after all these years, she knows me well enough that at least it wouldn't surprise her. I love the card she sent, if perhaps not for the same reasons that others might love it, lol.

  3. What a cool idea. If you figure out how to turn it in to your doll house fireplace, you totally need to post a picture!

  4. Thanks! Yeah, when I finally get to work on that project, I definitely will. Right now I have the cardboard boxes to make the house, some decorative hinges to put the two halves together, some cardboard tubes to use for pillars, the card to make a fire place. I would like to collect something for windows, have an idea how to build the mantle, maybe get some paperclay to texture the walls with... the pieces are still coming together in my head and I'm collecting supplies. But I promise I will post pictures when I get to work on it!