I like spending time with my family. We do crafty things, because they’re fun and everyone enjoys them. One of our traditions, started back when my daughter was in kindergarten, is to make little Valentine’s Day trinket boxes to send to school on Valentine’s Day- a craft I found on the Martha Stewart website and immediately fell in love with. It’s a cute craft- you take empty matchboxes, cover them with scrapbook paper and ribbons, and fill them with conversation hearts. It’s simple, sweet, and it’s always gone over well.
Until this year.
Last Friday, as I was at home recovering from the jetlag of my Westminster trip, I was interrupted in my reverie by a phone call from the school principal, who called to let me know that she had received “multiple complaints” about my little craft. My immediate thought was, oh no, the kids forgot to remove the matches from some of the boxes, but that wasn’t it. Some parents were just mortified that I used matchboxes for a craft. The principal patiently explained, in the same tone one might explain to a kindergartner why gargling with Drano is a bad idea, about the dangers of sulfur residue. Then she said the part that really killed me: “You need to think about the message you are sending here.”
The message I had sent, or so I thought, was, “I care enough about your kids to spend a day running around gathering supplies to make a cute and time consuming re-purposing project.” But people being the contrary types who like to assume the worst read something else into it, what, I don’t know exactly. “Hey kids, pyromania is fun!” “Crack is cool!” Empty matchboxes are the gateway craft, y’all.
I’m not going to lie. I was upset, both at the parents who immediately assumed the worst and then, rather than just throwing it away, ran to the administration demanding recourse, and then at the administration for treating me as if I had sent home used hypodermic needles to the young impressionable minds of the school. The message I got loud and clear was this: you, Dr. V, are a bad mother with dangerous ideas.
The Tainted Love Project
So anyway, rather than continue to stew about it I started looking around for more constructive uses of my energy. I do believe our actions speak to our character and our messages should reflect that. So here is what I am doing:
Later that day I saw a post from my alma mater, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, about something called the Josh Challenge. It was started by a veterinarian whose child needed surgery. He created the I’ll Be OK gift box: in it, a book he wrote for his daughter while she was in the hospital, and a stuffed Golden Retriever. These boxes are donated to scared children in the hospital to let them know that “It’s going to be OK.”
My school is in a friendly competition with other vet schools to see who can raise the most money to purchase these Josh Kits for donation to local children’s hospitals. If they raise $1K by this week, pharmacology professor Dr. Alan Buckpitt is going to shave his 35 year old moustache off, which alone is worth a donation in my eyes. I remember him from my days at school. The ‘stache was impressive even back then.
In order to help them to this end, I am making a limited edition series of pet themed “Tainted Love” matchbox trinket boxes, which I will send along to anyone who makes a donation of $7 or more to the project. They will be lovingly crafted of dangerous cardboard and dusted with the sulfurous residue of its vacated matchheads. I use mine for Altoids. You can store whatever you like in yours: gunpowder, glass shards, mercury, the options are endless.
Lest anyone make assumptions about what message I’m sending, let me just go ahead and spell it out: We should all be so lucky that the biggest threat to our family’s health would be an innocuous empty matchbox. And if it is, be grateful for your blessings and rather than waste time condescendingly lecturing well meaning people about the dangers of repurposed cardboard, how about you remember those who are dealing with a real crisis and send a little love their way instead.
If you want to help me send a little message to the world about positive uses of one’s time, you can make a donation directly to the SCAVMA Josh Project fund through the Paypal Donate button here.
If you would like one of these toxic art pieces, just forward me your Paypal receipt for a donation of $7 or more and I and my kids will get right on it. In addition, if Dr. Buckpitt shaves off his moustache, I will pledge to donate the contents of my doggie goodie closet- piles of toys and pet supplies I’ve accumulated in the last couple years- to the Rancho Coastal Humane Society here in San Diego. I have a lot of stuff in there. Much love to you all!