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Monday, June 3, 2013

You've Got a Friend in Me

I stumbled across a picture on the internet this week that almost instantly brought tears to my eyes. It was an artist’s rendering of a grown-up Calvin, discovering old Hobbes in a box in the attic. *pauses* *takes fortifying breath* A little verklempt just talking about…

Ahem.  Anyway, it made me think of Toy Story 3, and the tragedy of leaving toys behind as we grow up. Good Lord – I cried SO HARD during that movie. Like, ugly cried. People were edging away.
But, as with many other snifflers out there, there was a good reason for my tears.

Snoopy.

Yes, you all know that I am a closet Snoopy lover, and that his little beagle face makes my heart go pitter patter.  But what you don’t know is that love affair started with a foot tall stuffed animal I received somewhere around the first grade.  He was magnificent! Wearing sassy conductor overalls with a handy cutout for his tail, Snoopy was the perfect companion.

He was solid enough to keep my wild, vivid dreams and the occasional nightmares at bay, soft enough to bury my face in his chest and cry, and sturdy enough to follow me on every trip I took.
He followed me on the adventures I took into the woods near our house, and listened to my stories from school. He joined me at my first sleepover, and rode out many a thunderstorm at my side. His fur gradually turned from white to brownish gray, but he was still gorgeous to me. I remember once when we were one a camping trip with my family, and I was gleefully tossing him in the air, trying to see how high he could soar. It was all fun and games until he plummeted back to Earth just out of my reach and landed flat on his face.

I gasped, horrified that I might have hurt him, and gathered him up into my arms. Tears sprang to my eyes when I saw the extent of his wounds. The threads holding the shape of his perfect little round, black nose had busted, leaving just a fuzzed out ball of yarn.

My dearest friend, wounded by my own hands. I cradled him gently to my chest, promising to take care of him, to make him whole again. But when I showed him to my mom, she just shook her head sadly. What was done was done, and now we both had to live with it.

From that day on, our relationship changed. I was too scared to take him on trips anymore, for fear that his fraying nose would be further damaged. I no longer felt safe sleeping with him tangled in my arms—what if I hurt him? So I kept him at arm’s length, making sure he could see me when I was near, but never again dragging him on my adventures.


Snoopy in his place of honor, slightly worse for the wear

It wasn’t long after that I realized I was growing up. By then I was nearly ready to make the transition to middle school, and middle schoolers didn’t play with dolls and stuffed animals.

After one last summer with him looking on and me struggling with growing into a young woman, I finally came to terms with what I had to do. So, one late summer day when the house was quiet, I pulled Snoopy into my lap one last time. I rubbed a hand over his matted fur, memorized the feel of it beneath my fingers.  I carefully adjusted his overall straps, making sure they were nice and tidy, and finally turned him around so I could talk to him face to face.

I don’t remember my exact words. Tears flowed down my cheeks, dampening his little feet as they dripped from my jaw. I told him that I loved him, and I always would remember him. I thanked him for being my buddy, and for sharing my childhood with me. I was happier for having known him, and he should be proud of that.

Kissing the top of his head and the end of his ruined nose, I carefully tucked him away in my closet, knowing that nothing would ever be the same.


Oh, the passage of time, my friends. It does seem to move faster than we are ever prepared for, does it not? I’m just glad for the memories that we are left with, and the small but distinct Snoopy-shaped love in my heart that I still carry, nearly 25 years later.

Tell me, did you have a special friend who defined your childhood? Or do your children now cling to their own little buddies?  Tell me I wasn’t the only one balling my eyes out as Woody and Buzz said their final goodbyes to Andy!

26 comments:

  1. I still have my pink bear named Ariel. He will be almost 19 now. I also still have my telly (he is a little bear) and pink puppy. I still love them. Yes I don't talk to them anymore but I always remember they were present in some of my favorite childhood memories.

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    1. Aw - how sweet :). I'm glad you still have them, even if you don't talk to them anymore. Its nice to know they are nearby, isn't it?
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  2. Erin,
    You weren't the only one crying in Toy Story 3, but I also bawled in Toy Story 2 when Jessie got left behind. I'm a sap! What can I say? :)

    I didn't have any toys I was especially connected to, but my daughter loves her stuffed animals. She allows them to take turns sleeping with her. Her favorite at the moment is a stuffed horse she recently made at Build a Bear. It's tradition to go to Build a Bear every Memorial Day weekend at the Mall of America. My hubby grumbles because he thinks she has enough stuffed animals, but I know we don't have many more years left. She'll be 11 this year. I want to enjoy my little girl as long as I can.

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    1. No special toy for you?! I can't imagine. But how sweet about your daughter. I think about that with my own niece, who is 8 now. Childhood is so fleeting - we must celebrate it while it is here, even if it does result in a whole lotta Build-a-Bears ;)

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    2. My imagination was my favorite toy. ;)

      I did love playing with my grandmother's salt and pepper shakers. She collected ones shaped like animals and people. I never knew what happened to them, but I found a set of roosters in my mom's stuff she was giving away and I snagged them. They now have a special spot in my cabinet.

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  3. OMG, I cried like an idiot at the end of Toy Story 3. I didn't have any toys but my daughter did. She loved Snuffy from Sesame Street and when we took her on a trip to Hawaii when she was 2, she left him on the plane in Texas when we transferred. When she woke up the next day asking for him we realized what happened, so my husband called the airline. I thought I would die!! They actually had found it and shipped it to us. We just told her he stayed to visit his mommy who missed him.

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    1. What a clever thing to tell her! And kuddos to the airlines for knowing a cherished baby when they see one. That could have turned out much differently!

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  4. I cried during both Toy Story 2 and 3. I kept several toys from my childhood that I was attached to (and still am). I've tried to pass them on to my daughter, but she's not interested. She has her own precious stuffed animals that mean the world to her. So...I guess I am keeping my toys for potential grandkids someday.

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  5. LOL - funny thing about those special items you save for the next generation. Half the time they could care less! But yes, there is always the grandbabies :-)

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  6. I bawl like a baby every time I watch Toy Story 3. The part where Andy leaves his toys? Omg.

    I have two toys that hold a special place in my heart. Jingles is one I blogged about a while back. He's a stuffed gray donkey with bells in his ears that was a gift from my last living great grandparent.

    But then, there's Baby. Baby is a beanie doll, with a diaper flap in the back that's held up with Velcro. My aunt gave me Baby (well, I should say Baby A) on my first birthday. I loved Baby so much, she went everywhere with me. I guess I loved her too much, because by the time my second birthday rolled around, Baby had lost most of her beans. Thanks to my aunt, I got Baby B on my second birthday, the exact same doll only new and in perfect condition. I still have Baby B.

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    1. Now that is a great aunt! I always thought Beanie Babies were asking for trouble when it came to wear and tear - those little beads seem determined to find their way out!

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  7. Oh yes. I cried to all 3 of them. I actually still have my favorite stuffed pal from my childhood. A little gray seal. My mom and I were shopping in Florida while on vacation sometime during the mid to late 80's and we came across one of the souvenir shops. They weren't as plentiful as they are now on every corner lol. I found my little grey seal who I named "Sealy." I bet she stayed tucked under my arm for at least 10 years. She is tucked safety in a box in my closet not far out of reach to this day ;)

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    1. Sealy!! Ha- I love the names we come up with as children. That was the only downside to Snoopy - he already had a name! So glad little Sealy is still close by :)

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  8. I cry just thinking about Toy Story 3. Like the worst tear-jerker ever! As a parent it's incredibly bittersweet on the level of watching Andy grow up and move away, be too old for his toys, and have to say goodbye to his childhood.

    (My son gets angry thiking about the end of that movie. "He should have kept those toys for his kids, idiot!" he's complained more than once. You can imagine he has quite the tream of stuffed toys from his little boy years that he *is* saving for his kids.)

    I had a special siamese cat that my grandmother and grandfather gave to me one Christmas. They were my dad's parents and never had any money for presents. But this one year I got that cat, which was completely unexpected,and I still have him at my mother's house. It was always so special to me, that despite their lack of funds, they'd managed to get something for me that Christmas. I use to drag him around by his tail and I slept with him everynight.

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    1. Aw - I love that your son was indignant on the toys' behalves :) Yes, I had a hard time with him walking away like that, but I guess they couldn't have them go back in the attic at the end!

      So sweet about your grandparents' gift. It's amazing how much these little scraps of cloth and stuffing can mean to us. They are so much more than the sum of their parts!

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  9. Oh Erin, I cried like a baby over Toy Story 3! It was the worst tear jerker ever. It didn't help that I went with my then nineteen year old son and his girlfriend to watch it at the movie theater. It was bitter sweet for me because my own son was like Andy and moving on, growing up. I cried for hours. My poor hubby had such a hard time getting me to stop crying. But I will cherish that memory for life. What made it so super sweet that my son chose Toy Story 3 for us to watch because he wanted my youngest boy to enjoy Woody and Buzz like he did as a child. So sweet.

    I still have/ sleep with my Strawberry Shortcake blanket, although poor Strawberry Shortcake has about had it. I just can't make myself put her away in storage yet. So she lays across the end of my bed every day and night. It's so hard to let go sometimes. Great blog! Thanks for sharing your Snoopy with us!

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  10. Oh man - that would make anyone cry! Bittersweet, indeed. I think it's wonderful that you still have your blanket. Hold on to that until there's nothing left to hold!

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  11. My mother-in-law and I were having this very conversation tonight about my son's baby. He has this 'baby' that's been passed down from his 30 year old aunt to his 24 year old aunt, to his now 22 year old uncle. And it's the most beat-looking, old baby...her joints aren't even part of the doll's body anymore...and he LOVES her. He carries her around, all day, every day...and he's of course named her "Baby"...(which is beyond sweet, especially considering how hard he works to speak all his words). She reminds me of the baby in the first Toy Story that the mean neighbor gets a hold of and attaches dino limbs too...but she's perfect in every way! Just like my little one! Great post, Erin!

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    1. Oh my - I hope Baby will hold out for another few decades! I bet he is just adorable carrying her around with him everywhere :)

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  12. Gee thanks, Erin, for making me cry like a baby. :{

    I totally bawled during Toy Story 3, b/c I remember giving up all my dolls and always wondering if I secretly hurt their feelings by not playing with them anymore.

    I do and don't look forward to the day my own children give up their childish things.

    Gah! More tears!

    Erin, you are so going to hear it from me the next time I see you. ;)

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    1. LOL - if it makes you feel any better, I bawled while writing it ;)

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  13. Toy Story 3-yeh, took a lot of tissues to get through it! I have Trudel, who is a actually a Good Luck Care Bear. Trudel has been to most of Eastern Europe, Russia, Austria and Italy. He now has a friend Snoop Snoop (Yeh, my husband has a Snoopy too!) to keep him company so he doesn't get lonely.

    We decorated our son's nursery in Baby Snoopy-it was too cute!

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    1. AWWWWW -BABY SNOOPY!!! I've never wanted kids, but I always thought that if it happened anyway, Baby Snoopy decorations would be my consolation prize ;)

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  14. My childhood teddy bear was stolen when my storage unit was broken in to. I miss that teddy bear and have been mourning his loss for 8 years. When I was 14, teddy was moved froBeckym sleeping on my bed to sitting on my headboard watching over me as I slept. He was missing an eye, his nose was also missing, and he looked like someone bit his ear. But I loved him dearly.

    But I have another teddy bear that I still sleep with and take with me when I sleep away from home. Her name is BeckyBear. Andy gave her to me on our first Christmas dating. Becky has helped with the hole in my heart from losing teddy, but I will always miss him.

    I bawled while watching Toy Story 3. After we watched, Andy apologized for not warning me.

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  15. Oh no!!! How awful to lose your teddy bear to a bunch of no good thieves :( Thank goodness Andy had the forethought to give you a backup ;) As for the warning, I don't know if one would have helped me - I cried almost as hard the 2nd time!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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