Every family has its own holiday traditions. Some gather ‘round the spinet to yodel out the carols; others spin the dreidel; others hunt the boggy beds for plastic eggs filled with cash or chocolate; others look forward to a nice piece of hamentash come Purim.
Mine invented a new one for itself this Easter. We made dioramas.
The idea, alas, wasn’t ours, although it should have been. It was right up our alley. After all, we invented the tradition of recreating the Thanksgiving meal in Play-Doh some 30 years ago. But that’s another story.
But this Easter idea was made for us. Why hadn’t we thought of it first? I had to admit, I was a bit, ah, peeved we hadn’t. What you do, you see, is pick a scene from literature, and recreate it in a diorama (you remember them from grade school, don’t you?) but you use marshmallow peeps instead of fake people. Brilliant, as the British would say.
Then you trot them on down to the Olympia Public Library and enter them in its contest. Alas, none of us won. But we had fun. And, brain traumatically speaking, I managed to live with my own ineptitude and clumsiness long enough to get my own crooked creation into the contest.
CF and I gathered the shoeboxes, peeps, and necessary accoutrements for the project and on the appointed day set about eagerly creating our dioramae.
(The plural of diorama is really dioramas, because the word was made up fairly recently and so conforms to modern English and not to neato keano Latino. But I think I’ll leave it at dioramae. Okae?)
The primary problem with this activity is that we were all working in boxes, so we couldn’t see what each other was doing. It seemed secretive. But it was a lot of fun when someone would suddenly stand up and reveal a work in progress or a completed masterpiece.
Mine wasn’t much of a masterpiece. Artsy craftsy has never been my strong suit anyway, although I was at one point a pretty good weaver. I struggled along on Peep Sawyer Paints A Fence, based on Tom Sawyer painting a fence, which, you might recall, is where he gets his friends to do it for him, which, if you ask some of my college camping friends, is not far from the truth about me, where I used to manage to, um, well, you see, ah, oh, is the tent up already? do this with a friend when we camped, but between my brain-injured thumbs and my general clumsiness, my diorama was pretty dorky.
The requirements called for every inch of the diorama to be covered, inside and out, which meant covering the shoebox with paper of some sort, and I turned to CF for help with that, because even on my best day wrapping a regular-sized box is beyond me.
She worked one summer wrapping presents at a store somewhere and can nip and tuck with the best of them, while I obsess over cutting the paper the wrong size, wrinkling the tape when I apply it, not getting the paper tight enough, while she goes snip, whip, done, all with a magnificent seven-point bow on top, ribbon tight enough to snap your fingers off. I end up with something the cat wouldn’t bother to drag back out.
The outside of the box was the least of my problems. Peep Sawyer needed a straw hat to look properly lazy. How do you make a straw hat for a marshmallow peep? Especially if you have 10 thumbs, all of them right? (I’m left-handed.) You ask your partner. Yes, I was that desperate. She made a straw hat using something as a shell and gluing bits of straw onto it. Way beyond my ability.
But I stuck the straw in his mouth and the Q-tips in the painter peeps hands and built the little fence all by my little self and spray-painted only part of it white, yep, all by myself.
One benefit of brain trauma is that you can’t tell if what you are doing is truly awful or not, so I kept going and finished it, and actually took it to the library. They probably were surprised I entered it in the adult category, since I am sure it looked like a child created it, but here it is:
Other entries from our group included:
- Peepie the Pooh Hunts for Honey (group effort led by nephew Jack, who Tom Sawyer-like, did nothing but direct)
- Peep Marx Lectures on Capitalism, based on Das Kapital (nephew Eric, forced to enter as an adult & who would have cleaned up in the teen category)
- Something from Peep Potter I didn’t understand since I did not read the books (niece Katie)
- Wringing of Peep Necks, based on Wringer, a book about wringing birds’ necks (my son)
Next year, I’ll be better prepared. I’ll have thought through my selection beforehand, and not have to panic-make a straw hat. Or get CF to make one. I’ll take my time and leisurely spray-paint the outside of my shoebox. I’ll carefully gather the accoutrements for my precise scene.
I’m thinking of depicting Moses Parting the Red Sea, appropriate for the two major springtime holidays, and certainly a great scene from literature. I certainly have time to prepare. And a water feature would be very exciting. Can peeps swim?