What does the sparkly glitter that covers a lot of Christmas cards and various arts-and-crafts projects have in common with kudzu, an invasive ornamental plant?
We can thank Henry Ruschmann, a New Jersey cattle rancher, for the invention of glitter in 1934. When not working his ranch, he dabbled as a machinist and discovered a way to cut plastic sheets into thousands of tiny pieces of glitter.
Since that time, glitter has become a staple for arts-and-crafts projects and Christmas cards.
Kudzu came to us from Japan. It was first brought to the U.S. for the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 where it was promoted as food for goats, cows, and pigs. People also thought that it was a great ornamental plant. In small quantities, it is attractive.
In the 1930s and 1940s, southern farmers were urged by the U.S. Soil Erosion Service to use kudzu in order to help control erosion. More than 85 million seedlings were given to farmers.
The Japanese neglected to mention that kudzu was a bully. Maybe they have something that stops it from spreading. Still, it took almost a hundred years to figure out that kudzu would grow anywhere and everywhere, covering any other plant, tree, or object in its way. If the goats, cows, and pigs that ate this bothersome plant stayed still long enough, I’m sure kudzu would grow over them too.
Now, back to glitter. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Getting Christmas cards only adds to the joy of the season. Well, most of the time. But then it happens. You open this one Christmas card, and everything around you is almost instantly covered in glitter of all different colors. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but the glitter from that one card ends up on everything. It’s even worse when you get two or more glittery Christmas cards.
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate getting these glittery cards. They are pretty, yes, and if those menacing, colored particles would stay on the cards where they belong, that would be awesome. But before you know it, your hands begin to sparkle in the light. When you look in the mirror, your face is covered. It appears on your clothing. It appears in places where that the card has never even been near. Glitter magically reproduces itself and spreads like kudzu.
Glitter and kudzu are both nuisances, but each can be used for good. Glitter can be used to make things prettier. Kudzu blossoms can be used to make jams and jellies. Baskets and other works of art can be made from its sturdy vines.
I’m sure the people who send out this glitter-covered Christmas cards to their friends and family don’t mean any harm by it, but still, what if?
What if glitter really did reproduce like kudzu? How long would it take glitter to cover everything, including the people and animals, in your home?
What if the glitter had a mind of its own? What if it became a glitter monster that was always hungry and hunting for food? What would it eat? Would you be in danger?
The glitter monster needs a creature that can defeat it. Can you create this creature that protects all from glitter?
What about the one who bought, signed, and mailed out these Christmas cards? I know their hands had to have been covered with the sparkly stuff by the time they put them in the mail. Would the glitter be in the Christmas spirit and decorate their house for them? Would it magically transform some of its particles into Christmas trees? Tinsel? Other ornaments?
Or would it drive this person to the edge of insanity because it was everywhere and cause this person to swear to never buy glitter-covered cards again?
What if after so much glitter attached itself to a person, that unlucky individual was turned into more glitter? Would the human race become extinct?