Turning junk into gems

It has come to my attention that someone has put me on a list for junk mail. It occurs to me that it's the only kind of mail I receive. People tell me that they write me letters, but they must get lost in the shuffle. All I seem to get is junk mail, and I wonder how many other people are in this predicament. Recently, I've decided to take these endless bushels of lemons and try to make lemonade.

"Do you want to be a better you?" One such letter asked me intrusively.

"No thanks!" I answer.

"Quit smoking in seven days!" another announces.

"Thanks, but I don't smoke," I say as I whip it into the trash. For a while, I chuck the letters in the trash like the cards-in-the-hat trick. Junk mail seems to come at me from everywhere. I get it from every state. Does it come to me from every company, too?

It seems to be a tremendous waste of paper: Piles of coupons from stores I've never entered stuff the inside of my mailbox.

I'm amused by the variations on my name I receive. Though I should be getting mail for "Ms./Miss Laurel Caswell," I've gotten these in the past month as well: Mrs. Laura Carson, Mr. Lauren Casewell, Mrs. Laurell Cosgrove, and (my favorite) Laurel C. Aswell. So I've been collecting junk mail not just for myself, but also for about six different people that I think are meant for me. (I've asked around the neighborhood and discovered no Cosgroves, Casewells, or Aswells.)

Now, with the help of my sister, I've decided to put all of this colorful, plentiful, and meaningless paper to good use.

My sister has always been creative with paper: She's one of only two people I know who have successfully created an origami figure (the other person lived in Japan for eight years). Dropping all my collected junk mail in front of her, I asked her to please show me how to getting creative with paper.

In an instant, I'm watching the master at work. She rips open the mail. She sorts the colorful papers just so, then begins folding, shaping, and snipping.

Voilà - an envelope! I can't help thinking of Michelangelo, who once said he wasn't sculpting, he was simply releasing the figures from within the stone. Only with my sister, it's the useful item in the junk mail.

I copy her folding and snipping and soon I have a spanking new envelope before me. "Yes!" I exclaim. I hold it up. It is perfect for sending through the mail or attaching to a gift with a little note inside. After I do a couple more, we move on to wrapping paper.

It is as simple as taping or gluing together sheets of paper. My sister gathers interesting designs from several junk-mailings and combines them to make a single beautiful sheet. For her finale, she adds the bonus of ribbons and bows.

One envelope is shiny and black. She shows me how to turn it into a big puffy bow. She even incorporates the small piece of cellophane that was once the window where my name and address showed through the envelope. This gives it a bit of flashiness. I throw my arms around my sister and thank her. She has given me the gift of how to turn trash into small treasures. And I didn't even have to watch a home-improvement show.

I don't think that I'll be waiting by the window for the mail carrier to come and bring me more junk mail, but at least now it won't be such of a nuisance. I'm looking at my mail in a whole new light.

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