With These Hands

My kids have a lot of toys. They have shiny things with perfect edges, used toys from their parents’ child- hoods that were so well crafted that they continue to be loved almost forty years later, fancy stuff and pretty things. I have taken on as a summer project not only a weeding of the toys; I am also making them a dollhouse. But before you conjure up a quaint workshop with a jig- saw lightly coated with sawdust, and nicely appointed tiny furniture waiting in the wings, let me tell you about it.

The primary ingredients are duct tape and the card- board boxes our baby wipes come in. (I bought white duct tape so it would be *fancy*.) The roof isn’t quite the right size, so the cardboard poofs in a tiny bit on one side. I’m leaning towards popsicle sticks for siding, though I might go with card stock instead since I’m not crazy about the rounded tips. The floors are done mostly in tile samples I stole from Home Depot and the wallpaper is leftover scrapbook paper I haven’t used in other projects. I haven’t yet figured out stairs or windows or curtains or furniture. I’m thinking of putting a balcony on one side, but I forgot to put a door in that room and the structure probably doesn’t have quite enough integrity to cut one now. But the most important thing I need to tell you about the dollhouse I’m building is that it is AWESOME.

I got the idea from my young friend, Alex, who made a dollhouse for her Clara Barton doll. (Did you know Clara Barton was a Universalist?) I loved making things when I was a kid. I made spaceships and workshops, fairytale cottages and carnival games. When I started this pro- ject I think I mostly just wanted to make something— anything—with my own hands. I work on it a little every day. It has become my very own tiny spiritual practice. And I know that when I hand it over to the kids, it won’t be as beautiful as the one they like to visit at the toy store. But I hope the folded-over duct tape and the dented card- board will help them see a different kind of beautiful. Or maybe I just long to see it myself, that these hands can make a thing where there was no thing before.

Maybe even more than duct tape, the main ingredient is patience, and love, and possibly hope. Yes, definitely hope. 

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