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Crayons fun for all, tall and small

One of my fondest memories from childhood was opening a brand-new box of crayons.

Any size box or brand was welcome , but the greatest thrill of all was to get the deluxe box of 64 Crayolas.

Oh, the marvels tucked within that familiar green and yellow box, its contents just waiting to be cradled in my small hands. The possibilities that hid within those waxy sticks wrapped snugly in their paper jackets, the names of the hues rolling off my tongue: burnt sienna, cerulean, turquoise.

Crayons and coloring books were an expected match and admittedly I had great fun adding color to pre-fab' fairy tale princesses and cartoon characters.

But I also loved to draw my own pictures.

It might be a smiling queen garbed in a gorgeous ball gown of many colors or a field of trippy hippy' 60s flowers unlike anything you've seen in an earthly garden.

Butterflies, rainbows and more came to life when I touched crayon to paper.

My simple artistic efforts brought moments of positive euphoria (before I even knew what big words like that meant). The joy I gained from a $1 box of colors' and a cheap pad of white paper was priceless.

Later I took formal art classes and eventually graduated to more sophisticated art materials,oil and chalk pastels, Conte crayons and acrylic paints. My Crayolas became just another fond childhood memory like paper dolls and hobby horses.

It took a frightening episode during my college days to remind me of the therapeutic powers packed in a simple box of crayons.

It started when a fellow began phoning our apartment all hours of the day and night, day after day, night after night.

He said a lot of bizarre, sometimes threatening things.

We had no idea who this guy was or what he might do. Understandably, my roommates and I had trouble sleeping at night. Our nerves were on edge. So, like any red-blooded American femaleswe went shopping.

We bought tin whistles (the better to use to deafen the creep, my dear), puzzles and games and several coloring books and boxes of crayons.

Heck, if we couldn't sleep at 3 a.m. we figured we could at least laugh and play and be kids

and forget to be afraid for a while.

Thankfully the campus police were monitoring the situation and finally caught the guy.

I often wonder what HE would've thought of all those beautifully shaded coloring book creations and whimsical original drawings

direct results of the ugly business he started.

After that incident I always kept at least one box of Crayolas with my art supplies, right through college and into my first teaching position at the Alabama School for the Blind.

Their bright colors worked well for my low-vision students and melted crayons made for a great visual and tactile experience in special projects.

Later I taught a roving art class to elementary students at FDA and once more the crayon often saved the day as we made transfer prints, stained-glass effects and much more with that waxy stick.

Even my high school French students enjoyed the fun of crayons in projects such as decorating their own French caf menus and making holiday cards and greetings in la belle langue.'

"This

is very relaxing, Madame Long."

"MAN, I've been feeling so frazzled with basketball and school and everything…what a nice little break, madame."

"Nobody's let us do stuff like this for years."

Oh, there were plenty of hours put in memorizing the dreaded irregular verbs and translating paragraphsbut every so often I felt we ALL needed a bit of art therapy time.

I still do.

That's why I rounded up lots of new and marvelous crayons (metallics, special effects gels, cool construction paper shades!) and plenty of colored paper, scissors and paste, then made and hand-delivered our Christmas cards for 2001.

Wouldn't it have been easier and cheaper to just buy a box of cards and mail them?

Sure.

But this way was a lot more spiritually satisfying, emotionally therapeutic

and just plain fun.

Try it,you'll like it.