Saturday, September 30, 2006

Never too old to hold on to your teddy bear...

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 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!



TinaFerraro said...

Hurray for Donny, and thanks for sharing your story and those pictures!

I never really got the stuffed animal bug, so none of mine survived my childhood. But my daughter's room is filled with them, and I've logged in my share of hours with her at Build-A-Bear, admiring the choices, the clothes, trying to pick out cool names. Yeah, it's like creating characters--and we know there's nothing better than that!

stephhale said...

That is the sweetest story ever! I can't believe Donny went on your honeymoon, hilarious!
I remember having a small Pooh bear when I was little that I was quite joined at the hip with. One night I threw up pepperoni pizza on him and when he got washed half his mouth ripped off.
He kind of looked like a stroke victim after that but I still loved him. Sadly, my crushes were as fickle then as they are now and I'm fairly certain Pooh met his demise in the yearly garage sale.
ps- build-a-bear rocks. why didn't i think of that?

Anonymous said...

this is a really sweat story. i'm 30 and still sleep with my teddy nearby. if that's a bad thing, then so be it. i think we cling to those friends 'cause they've been with us so long. nuthin' wrong with it. thanx for sharing.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

So sweet, Marley! I still have my teddy and now I fight with my daughter for him. She keeps saying he is hers now, and I keep saying I'm letting her borrow him. I can't seem to give him up!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

I have the teddy bear I received as a baby gift, or for my one-year birthday, can't really remember THAT far back. But I do remember there used to be a tiny gold bell in one of his ears, his left one, and it fell out a long time ago. My teddy is also either 37 or 36 years old depending on if he was a birth gift, or one-year gift. I remember being little thinking how huge a bear he was, and now, he seems so tiny. But he is up there on my closet shelf. I should bring him down for a visit.

I also have my Good Luck Care Bear I received from Santa when I was 16 ('course I knew who Santa was by then, but I had a younger brother). I don't even let my daughter play with my Good Luck bear or my other one.

And in the past five years or so, I acquired a Woobie blanket from TJ Maxx that I absolutely love and sleep with every night!

Thanks for sharing your Teddy Bear story and bringing up the memories!

Young Adult Authors said...

Okay, confession time... I slept with my bear Snuggles all through college and uh... the first year when I was married. Snuggles was a Gund I heisted from my mother when we were on a trip to Hawaii during my high school years. Maybe because he belonged to my mom, he was special to me. (Just so you don't think I'm some kind of klepto -- I told Mom I was nabbing him.) Anyway, Snuggles has watched patiently my writing career progress from his vantage point above my desk. Though, at the moment, he's *gasp* in storage. Poor Snuggles. Don't tell Mom. :)

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, Donny is just adorable! Thsnks for telling us about him, Marley!

Here's a bit about my new friends:

I think Bratz dolls are so cute.
Last Xmas, I put it on my list and ended up with 2: one with the same coloring as me and one with the same name as my main character in my first YA. They hang out in my home office and inspire me to write fun, stylish, sassy YAs.


Simone Elkeles said...

I gave my daughter my Snoopy and Woodstock stuffed animals. She doesn't get hos special they were to me, though. I LOVED Snoopy and couldn't afford Belle at the time although she was way bigger than Snoopy and I didn't know if she was his girlfriend or sister. My daughter does sleep with "Bruce" - the shark from Finding Nemo that she got from Disney on Ice. She can't sleep without it.

Marley, I love the pics of you with your bear. It's heartwarming!

Anonymous said...

Yay! I dont feel like such a loser!

I have a teddy bear named Pinky. Ive had him since I was born. My Grandma gave him to me when I was in the hospital still. I dont have to bring it with me everywhere or anything crazy like that but its nice to have a cuddle buddy on cold wintery nights and when you cry yourself to sleep.