Pronounced bree-kuh-lahzh

– noun,“To make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose).”
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As Sister Rose Delores would say, “Now use it in a sentence.”

One who engages in bricolage is a bricoleur.

Think MacGyver or Mr. Bean, or you as a five year old.

One of my fondest childhood memories was practicing bricolage with my two sisters. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up so we had to be creative. Of course we loved to play Barbies. One week-end my mom let us take over the dining room table to build a Barbie world. It started with Barbie’s house. I was in charge of the bathroom. We made her a bathtub out of a pink Pyrex loaf pan (which is being offered on eBay for $24.99) and my mom carved us a tiny little soap bar, and made her a toilet paper roll with a toothpick and cut up paper towels. The towel rack was a bobbie pin with another chunk of paper towel hanging from it. Barbie loved it! Nobody recalled our Barbie dream house because of lead paint.

We also used to play “store.” Mom would always open her cans and boxes on the bottom so we could pretend they were still full and we would make price tags for them and with cinder blocks and boards made store shelves and would take turns being the shopper and the cashier.

She was a wonderful cook. My favorite meals were “Clean out the fridge night.” It was time to take leftovers and whatever else we could find and make a meal. Not everyone ended up with the same things on their plate – so you felt special.

This recession will bring back bricolage. We’re not going to be able to buy whatever we want and passively be entertained. Budgets are getting cut, times are tough. We have to get back to basics.

I’m sure our fallen brothers and sisters in the military relied on the practice of bricolage. Let’s remember them and honor them.

My wish for this Memorial week-end is for us all to practice bricolage. Make a fort with your kids, rustle up vittles, make music with waxpaper and combs and plastic containers and wooden spoons, make up a bedtime story, use clothespins to attach playing cards to your kids bicycle wheels to make a cool noise. Enjoy what you have.

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