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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cardboard Box Added to the Toy Hall of Fame

I think this is the coolest thing: hat tip to Kevin Eikenberry for pointing it out.

Forget the fancy toy: The box it comes in can be much more fun. Spaceship, castle, haven to daydream in, the cardboard box was enshrined Friday in the National Toy Hall of Fame along with Jack-in-the-Box and Candy Land.

No kidding, grown-ups.

"I think every adult has had that disillusioning experience of picking what they think is a wonderful toy for a child, and then finding the kid playing with the box," said Christopher Bensch, chief curator of the Strong Museum. "It's that empty box full of possibilities that the kids can sense and the adults don't always see."

Low-tech and unpretentious it may be, but the cardboard box has fostered learning and creativity for multiple generations - a key qualifier for inclusion in the museum's seven-year-old hall of fame. And its appeal as a plaything or recreational backdrop is universal.

My own best memory? Flattening those bigger cardboard boxes and using them as slippery sleds down grassy hills in the summer. Maybe not exactly the learning creativity Bensch means, but wild and wonderful FUN, scrapes, bruises and all.

What did you do with your cardboard boxes?

Oh yes, a box can be a space ship, house, grocery store - you name it.

As a parent of two small children, I can only hope that pots, pans and wooden spoons will also soon join the venerable cardboard box in the toy hall of fame.
One of the first stories I remember was Christina Katrina and the Box, in which young Christina got a cardboard box and turned it into a dance floor, a tree house, and so many other things. It's funny how we lose the love for these smaller joys in life, and now a Lexus even need a pretty bow in order for us to *really* love it. OK, funny is the wrong word. Sad is more correct.

And what did I do with cardboard boxes as a child? I curled up with my blankets and slept inside of them, because they were warm, and quiet and dark. Those were the days.
When I was growing up my dad would put some of our Christmas presents in cardboard boxes and then wrap them up with brown wrapping paper. He was an artist and he would draw pictures on the wrapping paper and then write our names in large calligraphy. I don't remember what was in the boxes but I do remember that they were personalized and a whole lot of fun. It's amazing what you can do with simple things!
Recently my company ordered something that was delivered in a washing-machine-sized box, and later that day I spotted the empty box sitting in the warehouse awaiting trash pickup.

I went to my 24-year-old co-worker, knowing she had a son who was 6, and told her she needed to go snag that big box for her kid.

A puzzled look grew on her face. "What for??"

After the initial shock, I explained to her some of the various and wondrous uses of a large cardboard box in the hands of the childhood imagination, and she seemed to see the logic in it, although she might have just been pretending to agree in order to end the conversation quicker.

I weep for this generation ...
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