A few summers ago Uncle Andy came to visit. Uncle Andy’s daughters are all grown up but he has a wonderful ability to connect with kids of any age. During his visit we decided to take the croquet set over to the local park and play a round or two with our daughter Sophie, who had just turned seven.
As we were setting up the course, Sophie noticed a tree that had a little hollow place at its base. “What’s in there?” she asked. Before I could answer Uncle Andy piped up, “Why that’s a fairy house of course.” Then Sophie noticed the broken end of a fishing rod lying near the base of the tree and wondered aloud what it was. “Everybody knows that’s the flag pole for the fairy house,” answered Uncle Andy without missing a beat. Then he took the broken end of the fishing pole and stuck it in the ground right next to the hollow spot of the tree and stuck a leaf on the end of it to serve as the flag!
“I cannot lose this magical idea,” I thought. I could see our daughter’s imagination as well as my own taking off the second he stuck that fishing pole in the ground. That was the only prop I needed to imagine a whole little fairy village around the flagpole.
So when had some empty matchboxes lying around, I decided to remind Sophie of the fairy houses. I told her that I was going to make a portable beach house for the fairies.
Sophie is currently in an amazing summer theater camp working on set design and construction so she took immediately to this idea.
She decided immediately to deconstruct her matchbox and attach tiny strips of velcro to it so she could attach and disassemble the walls of her fairy house.
I went for detail. My fairies have their beach towels out (scraps left over from the summer hand-washing washcloth I cut up) and their umbrella up for a little shade.
I cut down a tropical drink umbrella so it would fit back in the matchbox at the end of the season and used the scrap toothpick ends for the drinks on the tray. There’s a Moon Pie next to the drinks and one of the fairies is reading the new Steig Larsson book. (I have to wait for 46 people at our library to finish it before it makes its way to me. There’s no waiting list at the Fairy Library–wait–that’s yet another matchbox isn’t it?)
As an aside, my friend Linda is my co-leader in teaching catechesis at our church.
She made a little matchbox gift for me at the end of the year that is a beautiful reminder of some of the topics we covered in our atrium.
It’s all about the possibilities of an empty box.