The Tooth Fairy is a well-known character, but today I’d like to introduce her lesser-known cousin, the Toothbrush Fairy. The Toothbrush Fairy is a playful character who travels the land, high-fiving people for keeping their teeth clean and their smiles happy. Her crown is made of shiny silver-painted toothbrushes that have been retired from daily service. The Toothbrush Fairy’s wand is also made of toothbrushes that have been taken out of circulation.
This idea came to me in stages. I’ll share something embarrassing because we’re all friends here on my blog: there were twenty four used toothbrushes in our house. Some were tucked into medicine cabinets, forgotten. Others had been saved as back-up brushes. A few brushes were earmarked for craft use. Several had bristles that no longer stood at a right angle to the handle—they’d been through some rough times and their barely-identifiable bristles had been chomped, twisted and flattened almost to oblivion. In my defense, I hate throwing things into the trash that might be used in some other way. On the other hand, twenty four extra toothbrushes is a little extreme. Clearly, it was time to turn the old brushes into something new, or to bid them farewell forever. Given this choice, I immediately thought of painting them silver and turning them into art. Using such a utilitarian item as decoration delighted me. And somewhere along the way, the Toothbrush Fairy was imagined.
At some point I decided that the Toothbrush Fairy should do a good deed. Fairies have magic powers, as you have heard, and I decided that the Toothbrush Fairy would bring twenty new toothbrushes to people who need them. It may seem odd to combine Wacky Wednesday with a good deed. It’s not like I call it “Giving Wednesday.” But the idea really appeals to me. Why not combine giving with goofiness? It feels good to give, and it feels good to laugh—why not bring the two together?
There are many worthy organizations in San Diego, but I decided that the Toothbrush Fairy will visit Fr. Joe’s Villages, an organization that helps the homeless. Homelessness is an issue that I ponder regularly. It’s a reality where I live: San Diego has the fourth largest population of homeless people in America (and the third largest for homeless veterans). This is tragic. I’ve donated to Fr. Joe’s Villages, and I’ve given homeless people food. Not everyone will agree about homelessness. People have different ideas about how to help homeless people or whether to help them at all. But I think most people would agree that no matter the reason why someone is homeless, every person needs a toothbrush. A healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body and a positive self-image. The Toothbrush Fairy can’t solve homelessness on her own but she wants to help in a small way. So tomorrow I will visit Father Joe’s Village and donate twenty new toothbrushes to the residents. Fr. Joe’s houses homeless people, with a focus on helping them to find permanent housing as soon as possible. One of Fr. Joe’s services is helping people to find jobs so that they can afford housing. Fr. Joe’s also helps its residents with health care, childcare and schooling for kids and teens.
As whimsical as my art is, I’m very practical and I like the idea of gifts that are truly needed, and will be used. A toothbrush is a small gift but small acts can mean a lot to someone who doesn’t have a lot of hope.
According to the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, in 2003 Americans identified the toothbrush as the number one invention we could not live without. I rest my case. (Just kidding. I’m not finished yet.)
I like to get a lot of bang for my buck, making art without spending a lot. Here’s my cost break down for this week’s outfit:
Used toothbrushes $ 0
Silver paint (I already had) $ 0
Dress (already had) $ 0
Wings (gift from neighbor) $ 0
Hot glue sticks $ .50
20 new toothbrushes $19.33
This week’s creative challenge was both fun and meaningful for me. This whimsical-worthy combination actually sums up my approach to life in general: have fun. Laugh a lot. Share. Be kind. (Brush your teeth.) And smile. You never know how much it might mean to the person on the receiving end….