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A beloved friend passed away last month. He’d been ill. It wasn’t a surprise. But still very sad. He’d been a BIG person…in every way. Big personality, big physical presence. Before he’d become too sick, he’d also been a gunsmith. Imagine a very large, loud-voiced (often spewing loud expletives) guy working away in the gun shop. I used to delight in sending him birthday cards each year that were childlike, such as one with a crayon stick-figure drawing of him holding a pistol and saying “Bang! Bang!” We were opposites, but we’d always had a lot of affection for each other.
One birthday, my juvenile “card” offering was a Matchbox car that I’d glued a trailing banner onto, with the words to Happy Birthday written out. The tiny banner was rolled up and tied to the roof, to be untied and unrolled for reading. I was told later that one of his young grandsons was enthralled with the car and wanted to play with it every time he visited. The little guy was gently told it wasn’t really a toy, so he should only just look at it. (My, did I feel mean!)
Recently, I needed some kind of birthday cards for a set of twins, children of another friend, who were turning 7. I decided to make a couple of the banner cars. I found matching Matchbox cars and customized them for each boy. They were well received.
Come springtime when his own birthday rolls around, I have a suspicion that my friend’s grandson will be getting his very own happy birthday car just like the one his bampa had. And it will come with explicit instructions that he should be allowed to do whatever he darn well pleases with it (although I’m sure his bampa wouldn’t have said “darn”). This is part of my unofficial campaign to plant subliminal thoughts in my friends’ children that art can be fun. It doesn’t have to be serious. Silly is good, no matter what size you are.