Reflections: What’s In the Box?

Keeping myself entertained as a child was easy. I required only one of three things: a doll, a book, or a box.  The size or shape of the box didn’t really matter. Whether it be a shoe box, a packing box my parents had received a package in, a shoe box, Kleenex box, or joy of joys – a large box someone had discarded after buying an appliance! – I was delighted to take it and turn it into something magical and wonderful to treasure until the next box came along.

Each spring in preparation for Easter, my sisters and I, as well as our neighborhood friends, would plan a wagon-tricycle-bicycle parade. This meant putting streamers, flowers, ribbons and anything else we could talk our moms out of to decorate our “wheels” for the parade. For me it meant decorating boxes for my dolls to sit in while I pulled them proudly in my scratched up little red wagon. I needed one rather large box for Betsy Lee, my biggest and dearest doll. I can still see how amazing she looked in the brightly crayon colored box with ribbons glued to it. Next came my pink elephant, who sat in a shoe box. Mom had given me pieces of red felt to line the inside of the box. I tried to get our chihuahua to sit in the wagon, but no luck, so I had to put my best Doris Day paper doll in her fanciest dress in a small oatmeal box. She could just peek out the top without blowing over. What a parade! The neighborhood came alive with all of us kids prancing, shouting and laughing!  Betsy Lee slept in her box bed for many weeks after that.


“Oh, Mary, come quick!” my younger sister shouted a spring morning soon after. Following her outside, I saw what had her so upset. A tiny hairless baby bird had fallen from its nest and was lying on the ground.  Mama helped us feed it with an eyedropper, but prepared us for the inevitable outcome. Sure enough, our little birdie couldn’t survive – even with our tender care.  My sisters and I knew what we had to do – plan a funeral and invite our friends. But first…a box. I got to work. Only the best would do. I got a long Kleenex box, emptied out the tissues, colored flowers on the inside, and lined it with cotton. After tenderly laying the little bird inside, we put saran wrap over the opening of the box. What a service!  The neighborhood came alive with all of us kids singing, shouting and praying!

Goodness! I could go on and on. I could tell you about the time my own children made a pirate fort in a refrigerator box and played for hours with their grandpa, until he went missing. Finally one of our little boys saw “Tampa’s” feet sticking out of the “pirate ship”! (Grandpa had fallen asleep!) But that’s another story…

Mary Byrne Kline


Fireflies’ theme this month is a cardboard box.  Don’t miss a single post as our Fireflies’ team share book reviews, recipes, crafts, an art masterpiece, a visual art exercise, poems, and music – all centered around the cardboard box!   

I’d LOVE to hear a story about your childhood experiences with a cardboard box. Please share [comment below] for a chance to win one of our March Fireflies’ CLIP books.

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