Monday, November 11, 2013

A poetic collage of rattlesnakes, plastic pliers and cute kids

Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida 

A Cherokee boy climbed a high mountain, seeking his vision.  As he toiled upward, an old rattlesnake begged, “Please pick me up.  I want to see my last sunset from the top of the mountain.”  Wisely, the boy ignored him, but the snake persisted: “Please!  I’m cold!  I won’t hurt you!”

Finally, the boy picked up the snake. He carried it up the mountain and together, they watched the sunset.

As they started down the mountain, the snake bit the boy and the boy cried out in protest.

The snake said, “You knew I was a rattlesnake when you picked me up!” 

I’ve had the same experience.  Not with snakes and vision quests, but with Christmas gifts. 

Last year, at the last minute, we decided to spend Christmas out of town with one of our children and her family.  I had procrastinated buying gifts because life was crazy and I thought I’d take care of them after Christmas when we’d planned to go.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, when we should have been leaving, I was ransacking the house for gifts.  I found books for some of these grandchildren, but I had nothing for the five-year-old boy.  Nothing but a set of dollar store plastic tools.

I wrapped them and we hit the road. 

The next morning, our little guy opened his gift. 

“That’s lame,” he murmured, going in search of large, tantalizing packages. 

My husband gasped.  “That’s REALLY lame!”

From the floor, orange plastic pliers opened their jaws and said, “You knew we were lame when you wrapped us up!”

Immediately I switched from Christmas mode to New Year’s mode and made two resolutions for 2013:

1.     My husband would shop for the grandchildren’s Christmas gifts.

2.     I would create something memorable for the grandchildren for their birthdays. Something not lame.  But not expensive.

Finally, I had an idea. The online service where we develop digital photos has a “collage” option.  I could create a collage with five to six photos of each child and—here’s the good part—write a poem about the child as part of the collage.

It worked. The kids loved their collages—how can you not love your pictures, and a poem all about YOU?

Want to try it?  Try to start at least a couple of weeks ahead of your final deadline—creativity takes time. First, select no more than six digital photos, and think of them while writing the poem. Focus on your loved one’s special qualities.  Write two or three drafts; do your best, but remember your loved one is not a poetry critic. If writing poetry is daunting, write a sweet message.  

Type the poem in your word processing system. Center it, using a font that reflects the poem’s mood. Use boldface type and the largest type size possible (perhaps + 24 point) while keeping the message on one page.

Print the poem, scan it and save your scan as a .jpg or .jpeg file, so the photo lab will recognize it as a photo. Place this .jpg and your photos on your computer desktop, then go to an online photo lab site and upload them. Place them into an 8 x 10 collage.  The software shows different arrangements until you find the ideal collage.

Order, and voila’!  A gift that isn’t lame. With a frame, it costs about $7. 

And if you see my husband—ask how he’s doing on that resolution!