I’ve had some discussions this week with friends about the place of stuffed animals in a girl’s life. I admit it, I’m three months shy of forty and stuffed animals are still very much a part of my life. I buy them as souvenirs of trips, people give them to me as gifts (got a lot of penguins and puffins when I sold) and I have many pals from my childhood who are still around my humble abode. (Just check out my writer’s desk – this is The Writing Team – they’re there to inspire me, stare at me and make me feel guilty if I don’t write like I’m supposed to.)
Do you think it’s too childish to cling to a treasured, furry friend after a certain age? Or are these beloved, fabricated Americans (sorry, homage to the dearly-departed Greg the Bunny) part of the framework of our own being because they’re the first true, loyal friends we experience?
Not only do I think it’s the latter, but I know for a fact that my stuffed animals are the catalyst behind my creativity, imagination and, yes, my writing.
Meet Donny. Yep, that’s me at age three on Christmas morning with my “teddy twins” – Donny (left) and Bonnie. (And before you ask, yes, he was named after Donny Osmond.) Donny quickly became an integral part of my life. We did everything together, went over to friends’ houses, attended sleepovers and...we slept together. (Not like that! Honestly, people.) He was there for me all the time, through thick and thin, through late night study sessions to crying over boys who broke my heart. Donny was my strength, my touchstone...my friend. And he still is. When I got married, Donny went on the honeymoon to London with us as a joke...because my brother and sister always kidded me that Donny would go on my honeymoon. Well, I showed them, eh? (That’s me and Donny in Kensington Garden.)
Here’s Donny today. He’ll be 37 on Christmas Day. I think in bear-years, that’s like 259 or something. He hasn’t held up well, but you can certainly see he’s been well-loved.
The stuffed animals in my life, though, inspired me. I created dramas and stories about them. I had a “town” newspaper. I held beauty contests (that my brother and sister had to judge), proms and holiday parties. Through the bond with my pals, I enhanced and fed my creative imagination that I believe helped me become the story-teller and writer I am today.
I haven’t slept with Donny in many years, but when life’s stupidity beats me down too much, my husband has been known to bring Donny to me for comfort. (I mean, that’s a guy who understands Donny!) He’s also a symbol of support in my family. When my mother had her 7-way bypass surgery, I brought Donny to her in the hospital. You’d be surprised how much a tattered teddy bear can do in a situation like that.
So, perhaps my good old teddy bear was something positive to hold on to.
Do you have a special stuffed friend who’s been with you like this through the years? Someone you couldn’t possibly live without? Do you want to go through your closet and bring an old comrade out into the open? What kind of inspiration for your writing can you get from that bond you shared?
Please share your story!