You know the familiar crunch when you pick up the mail in December. All those holiday cards are full of more than good cheer. The cloud of glitter is inescapable.
I find few things more annoying than glitter, unless “It’s Christmas Time All over the World” a song recorded by Sammy Davis, Jr. with a cutesy kids’ chorus. That song got stuck in my head a few years ago. It took weeks to get rid of the ear worm.
I know, I shouldn’t rain on others’ holiday songs or cards, but I can’t help it when the stuff floats into every crevice—computer keyboards, carpet, the dog. I appreciate the effort it takes to buy cards, address them and attach stamps. I appreciate the thought; it’s the glitter I can do without. I also know how difficult it is these days to find Christmas and New Year’s cards that are glitterless. I went on a hunt this year for such cards and found that no easier than finding greetings that are not printed in China.
Glitter’s annoying cousin—Mylar confetti– moved in to stay several years ago—about the time people actually sprinkled the stuff into envelopes for party invitations and holiday greetings. Some carried it a step further, decorating dining tables with tiny Mylar bells and stars and wreaths.
Makeup companies chimed in, adding glitter to eye shadow. Why anyone would want glitter near their eyes is beyond me, though I’ll admit I’ve caved to glittery nail polish, though I give myself a pass because the glitter in my polish stays put.
Bona fide glitter has been the bane of mothers for years. When I was growing up, my mother fussed at me every Christmas. “Don’t get that all over everything,” though of course, I did anyway.
Let’s face it: glitter is the crowning glory of children’s art projects. Who among us hasn’t decorated paper angels with glittery wings and halos? You had to use mucilage glue to get the glitter on evenly. Maybe you remember the glass bottles with the pink rubber tops.
In the late ‘50s, my preschool self was enchanted with glitter that came in three colors: silver, gold and multicolored. If glitter could have been a Christmas tree back then, it would have been one of those silver aluminum models with round glass ornaments and a rotating color wheel.
Yes, glitter is festive and cheerful–a natural for holiday décor and gift wrap. And cards, I suppose, though many of us consider glitter to be as charming as cracker crumbs in the bed or sand on the floor.
Glitter—that seemed to pervade my life as a kid in the ‘50s and ‘60s—has been around for generations. In Victorian times, it was made of ground glass. Today’s product is finely ground plastic that raises environmental issues because it winds up in the oceans.
I’ve tried to figure out why glitter comes and goes and I think it may have to do with fairy dust. That is, the need to “sugarcoat” troublesome times. Take the Cold War, for example. When I was busy decorating pictures of angels with gold glitter, the news was full of missile silos and bomb shelters and pictures of Nikita Khrushchev pounding a table with his shoe. Back then, we would borrow all the fairy dust we could get.
Who knows? Maybe the reason glitter has such appeal today is because the world needs sparkle so desperately.
Last summer, I attended a writing workshop at Hollins University in Virginia. It’s an all-female school that celebrates graduation in a big way. All around campus—in mid-June—was green and gold sparkles in the cracks of sidewalks—remnants of Intentional glitter spills from weeks ago, which brings me to one afterthought: glitter doesn’t go away. Ever. Static electricity makes the stuff cling to every surface known to humankind. Like the glitter my mother warned me, “Don’t get that all over everything.”
Like a relentless earworm, glitter is forever.