Earlier this year we had a garage sale and for some reason, no one wanted to buy a perfectly lovely child’s easel. Hearty wooden construction, one side a white board and one side a chalkboard. Sure, there were some random marker decorations care of the toddler at the time, but all in all, it was a good deal.
But no one wanted it.
So it sat there in my garage, no doubt feeling as lonely as once-loved easels can feel. For all the years of tiny hands making masterpieces on its sides, there was no one left to take over and make any more artistic statements. If a chalkboard could feel sadness, I’m sure this would be it.
Until I decided to have a party that involved a lot of soup.
The idea came to mind to welcome my guests with a sign near the front door, reading “No Soup for You” with the word “no” crossed out in signage fashion. I dug out some old chalk and got to work perfecting my lettering skills and set it out for all to see.
They saw it. They laughed. I left it out for a few days to amuse anyone else who might pass by.
Suddenly, we were hit by our first big snow of the year. Inspiration struck and I had to change my chalkboard message to reflect how happy we were about the marshmallow world that our street had suddenly become. I proudly put my chalkboard out front for all to see, and thought about how my neighbors would grin as they walked through the snow and read my message.
I was absolutely sure they would begin to purposely walk past my house to see what sort of witty note I was displaying that day. And then I talked to a lady who lives up the street.
“What is that chalkboard doing on your front porch? I can’t read it and I’m not walking up there to see what it says.”
My dreams were crushed, but I explained the story to her and told her that it was a little bit like Facebook, except instead of being online, it’s on-my-front-porch. A “non-virtual statement of just how I’m feeling that day, meant only for entertainment purposes.” I told her that it was meant to delight passersby and keep my family guessing, and to spread all sorts of good cheer this holiday season and possibly beyond, and that wouldn’t it be something special if a simple unwanted chalkboard easel could bring extra joy and smiles to this world.
“What does it say? I’m not walking up there,” she repeated.
Not wanting to be discouraged, I told her what it said. “Dear dad, Please hang the Christmas lights.”
Perhaps my next message will say, “If you can read this, you don’t need glasses.”
Originally written/published 11/30/14.