Primary-colored promises

I admit it. I love the sight of school supplies making their yearly center-stage appearance. Blank pages and unsharpened pencils await their call to duty for everything from the circle-stick-hook of a wobbly first ABC on through spelling tests, crush notes, algebra equations and first-day essays that always begin, “I spent my summer vacation…”

School supplies are primary-colored promises: something magical will happen if I open a box of brand-new crayons. I even wrote about my yearly Crayola jones in Uprooted:

Every August, school supplies blossom in the aisle of Target and Walgreens like sunflowers. Packages of wide-ruled filler paper. Eight solid ovals of watercolor paint toeing the line in a narrow plastic container. Glue sticks. Octagon-sided yellow #2 pencils.

This past August was the first time in a couple of decades that I couldn’t think of a single reason to buy some new crayons. No one in my family needed Raw Sienna, Carnation Pink or Teal Green for their school projects. It made me feel so sad.

Young adults, which is what our kids have become, don’t really think much about crayons until the time comes to buy them for their own kids. Every house needs a freshly painted wall adorned with Violet Red scrawls like ours once was. During my crayon mourning period, I was talking to an acquaintance named Tammy who mentioned that she was going to be taking her elementary-age kids for the traditional Buying Of The School Supplies that afternoon. I told Tammy that I felt sad that I didn’t have to buy crayons for anyone at my house.

When I saw her a few days after that conversation, she handed me a sky blue 2-pocket folder and a box of 24 brand-new crayons. I didn’t mention my crayon jones to anyone else that I can think of. Yet not more than a week after Tammy handed me those crayons and bonus folder, I discovered that someone had put 3 packages of colored pencils and another box of crayons in my mailbox at work. No one could explain why I’d received this anonymous gift…

I wrote those words a couple of years ago. Fast forward to July, 2009: To supplement my free-lance writing life, experience and income, I recently began a new part-time position as Communications Director for Catalyst Lake County. (My other new part-time job is as a caregiver for Visiting Angels, a home health care agency.) Catalyst coodinates a wonderful ministry initiative each summer called the ShareFest Backpack Drive. Click here to read a local paper’s coverage of this summer’s drive.

As I read the article, it struck me – a Neon Green ah ha!

I once again have a perfect excuse to buy some crayons.

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