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I mailed off a ‘care package’ for Gill yesterday. It contained a few funny trinkets, some flip-flops, and a pair of, as I declared for the customs people, ‘cheap shoes’…just to be sure they got the point. Looking at them, in all their vinyl splendor, I doubt that anyone would mistake them for Manolo Blaniks, but still, I don’t want to pay duty on something that costs less than the cost of shipping it.

One of the most important items in the package was the Easter Egg Dyeing Kit. Gill requested, many months ago, that I send her one since she didn’t think they have them in England. At least that’s what her friends told her. Apparently one friend’s eyes opened wide at the thought of such a delightful thing. Astonished that she had never coloured eggs for Easter, Gill immediately took it upon herself (by foisting the task onto me) to provide the kit and even help with the actual craft. I couldn’t quite believe that anyone could grow up not being exposed to the delight of coloured eggs, but there you have it, a deprived childhood. Britain may have ‘Scotch eggs’, but not brightly coloured ones. So when the package arrives, Gill will take the contents of the package (along with boiled eggs) to the office to have a decorating session during their work lunch hour.

“Are you sure you should be doing something  so (I almost said childish, but caught myself in time) uh, creative at your place of work?” I asked.

“Oh, pshaw, Ma! I’ve done much worse…


“Of course. But you don’t want to know. Besides, I see it as an effort to bond with the team. The boss is all about that. And this is a basic part of anyone’s childhood education. Right up there with riding a bike, skating, swimming. If you haven’t done it, there is a void in your life. I feel it’s my duty to bring this sacred rite of passage to their life experience.”

“Fine, if you must. Just remember not to cook the eggs in a microwave. The last time you did, they exploded and left an unholy mess…but perhaps fitting for Easter…someone dying on a cross, blood everywhere, microwaves exploding. On a par as far as mess goes.”

Gill went on to regale me with tales of other crafty things she has tried to teach the poor, underprivileged residents of the UK. The best was the paper snowflakes. Every North American kid knows how to fold paper and make cutouts in it to fashion the most delicate, lovely designs. And since every individual flake (not unlike my children) is unique, since there is no set pattern, they are truly like real snowflakes, no two the same. Apparently her friend had Googled ‘snowflakes’ and found a pattern that she then printed off. She and her colleagues were all set to trace and cut.

When Gill saw what they were doing, she screamed, “Stop! That’s not how you make snowflakes!Never, ever let me see you using a pattern again.” And with that, she grabbed the scissors, some paper, and began randomly folding and cutting. When her friends saw the results, they were amazed. Again, something every North American child knows how to do before they get to school. In England, this is akin to creating an exotic work of art worthy of hanging in the Tate.

So, I am pleased to be a part of something so important — the export of our culture to those less privileged. I suppose, if Gill does blow up the microwave in the process, she could offer IT to the Tate as a piece of performance art…yolks and all.