A tattered and worn out teddy bear named “Teddy” stands guard near our bedroom window on this cold December morning, awaiting his 64th Christmas morning this year. He is surrounded by other ancients: the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball given to me by the team pitcher when I was three years old, my favorite childhood books, and a copy of the New Testament given to me by my Aunt Sarah in 1964. He wears the Army jacket made by my mother. But he shows his age, doesn’t he?
Along with many stuffed animal fights in his past where he lost red glass eyes and lots of body hair, he also went through outpatient surgery performed by my older brother and me (I am sure it was an idea of his; I was merely a nurse standing by to help monitor anesthesia and vitals). You see, we thought his metal internal growling box needed removal; his back still bears the brown threaded stitches used to sew him back together.
He was the highlight of my Christmas as a four-year-old in December 1957, sitting atop a stack of variously sized, beautifully colored and decorated cardboard boxes in the wee hours of that morning. My brother and I had awakened early (3:30 AM as I recall), and Dad gave us permission to emerge from our tiny bedroom in the 600 square foot house (formally a chicken house) in which we dwelt until 1963. The moment was magical for me; I have never forgotten it!
Memory is amazing, isn’t it? For the things we forget as well as the things we recall. Some with uncanny clarity and emotion.
Mom and Dad are both gone from this life as our family prepares to celebrate Xmas 2021. Twelve years gone for Dad, nine years gone for Mom. But they are still in my heart. Dad never met any of my four grandchildren; mother, only the first (for a brief time).
But Teddy is still with me. The company in England that made him did an amazing job. I wonder if they expected him to live this long. One day, he too will fall to pieces, I suppose. Fabric, stuffing, thread; these things don’t last forever. But I digress.
What interests me today . . . the thing I wanted to share with you . . . is the amazing longevity of a gift. Teddy sitting atop those cardboard boxes 64 years ago thrilled a little boy in a way he has never forgotten. Hopefully, you will give gifts to your children (and others) this Christmas that will be treasured for a lifetime. Blessed keepsakes.
My oldest granddaughter (7 years old) was visiting several weeks ago. She saw Teddy sitting in our bedroom and we started a discussion of his origins, etc. Finally she said to me: “When you die will we get him?” I smiled, thoughtfully, and said: “I suppose you will.”
Of course, wherever Teddy goes to live out his final days there is no way his new caretakers will ever treasure him the way I did. The way I do.
The thing is, you never know which specific gifts will give the recipient a tug in his/her heart years hence. Frankly, you never know which gifts will survive the passage of time. What relics of your past do you still possess? Gifts from your younger life, keepsakes from your family? Sets of china dishes? Dolls? Other toys? Furniture? Consider them this Christmas, gaze at them, handle them, share the stories, and . . . remember.
Merry Christmas! Make this one unforgettable!