Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The season of cardboard


Christmas box rubber stamps from Rubbermoon (bottom of page you land on, then top of the next page.)

Cardboard houses, glittered or sprinkled with bumpy composition snow. Window spaces filled with amber-colored cellophane to simulate the light cast from Christmastime living rooms. These, I believe, are my icons, hold-overs from a 1950s childhood, a few of their swap-meet kin stepping in to replace the lost originals. They've held up surprisingly well. I do love cardboard.

The Christmas of my child heart always begins at the dime store, walking the aisles of creaking wooden floors, seeing myself small enough to call these paper neighborhoods home. In the way that snow globes beckon in others' Christmas reveries, one of these palm-sized, chimneyed cottages set on a branch, next to a bubble light, is a vignette that takes me home.

Image, thanks to oodlesandoodles.typepad.com.

12 comments:

Erin in Morro Bay said...

At this time of year I'm often drawn to remembering those magical isles in Woolworth's and Cornet's. How one section would have dozens of little compartments full of the different Nativity Scene characters - a group of Marys, a flock of sheep, a bunch of Wiseman #2, etc. And then on another isle - Shiny Brite ornaments and boxes and boxes of "real" tinsel. Ah, those were the days. They seem very close every December.
Happy Holidays, Erin

Robert the Skeptic said...

I remember we used to set up little cardboard villages under the tree along with my Lionel train. I still have the train which I set up every year.. waiting for the grand kids to come over this year to help me lay the track.

Laoch of Chicago said...

: )

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - As soon as the Halloween merchandise went on display, we couldn't get enough of the dime stores. Kress' downtown was our favorite big store, though Woolworth's may have been bigger. We had one in walking distance called Nelson's, where the floors really, really creaked. It does all seem so close at Christmas. May your preparations be merry.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I love that you still have your train set, that you and your grandchildren get it ready to roll. If there are any buildings, my tiny self will be waving from a window. Stop in for hot chocolate and a gingerbread man.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Thank you.

Pamela said...

Our cardboard-frocked angels and coterie of pine cone/pipecleaner elves belong in those lovely cardboard cottages. We have Shiny-Brite ornaments here, and one or two ornaments from the early 20th century--a clown, a cottage, a flocked-paper diecut angel.

Artist and Geek said...

:) too.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Pamela - I know those pine cone and pipe cleaner elves...I can see their faces and, if I recall, maybe some pointy hats. They and their angel companions would be so at home in the wee houses. What a lovely tree with your vintage ornaments.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - *<:) Thanks...pretend you see an elf hat on a smiley face.

Claire Beynon said...

Dear Marylinn

Thank you for waking welcome memories of past Christmases, for the gift of happy spangle and miniature neighbourhoods, pine cone pixies and snow globes. Perhaps muddle-y years such as this one call us to look more sweetly upon simple shapes and palm-sized magic? You remind us to appreciate the smaller details; to bring our child's heart to things - let the bubble light that once-upon-a-time held the beauty and magnetism of a planet do so again?

And what is it about creaking floorboards? Thinking back to the ones in my grandparents' old house stirs up all the senses; I hear again the chiming of their grandfather clock, smell yeast bread rising in the corner of their kitchen, brush past Chinese lantern flowers beside their driveway, feel my grandmother's soft-edged presence and the cool stone verandah floor; why, in a moment, there might be a paddling bee to rescue from the jug of blackcurrant cordial...

I've felt significantly stretched by this year's (t)asks. . . as have so many of us, it seems. These past few days especially, I've wondered how to lift things up and out of the ordinary. Celebrations seem to become all the more essential, don't you find? Now more than ever it feels important to create space for ritual, for tinsel and coloured lights and the replacement of 'lost originals'. There is such poignancy, potency and preciousness in little things?

A friend once said to me 'never underestimate the value in the ordinary.' He was right - and how often does the ordinary turn out to be extraordinary?

Love to you and your visitors and thank you all for these beautiful image offerings - C xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - The value of the small and the ordinary, to take us away from ourselves, our sometimes narcissistic concerns, or the challenges of the exterior world, is inestimable. The simple glow of Christmas lights, seen from the end of the hall, shifts my outlook. I know they don't really give off great heat, yet every part of me is warmed by their gleam.

We were lifted up and into the spirit we seek from Christmas yesterday by real rain, a visit from a friend who brought humor, cheer and generous treats, by becoming still and being grateful and setting aside all other matters for another time...or to let them work themselves out.

My child heart has so many little moments to which to return when this moment becomes too harsh. All your recollections of your grandparents house. We can create ritual in any moment, give commonplace acts greater meaning.

Thank you for being part of this exploration. Christmas also lives in the memories others share with us. xo