Hi, my name is Barbara– some of my friends call me Babs. I love toys, all kinds of toys. This column is all about the kind an adult might enjoy… well… now, not that kind. But toys that relieve stress and might be called comfort toys as well. When things get stressful, it can be helpful to have something to take the edge off. It seems that we all have things that cause stress: waiting in line for one thing or another, your turn to see the doctor, or a computer program to finish running. Or perhaps being a passenger on a long trip. Whether in a plane, train or automobile, having something to amuse you can help the time go by much faster.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that stuffed animals are just for kids.
I suppose some might say I am a bit of an eccentric when it comes to toys– I like to think it is just that I am young at heart, but whatever the reason… I find them comforting. If you have read my previous articles, you know I enjoy puzzles and stress-reliever toys. But my favorite toys are stuffed animals…primarily because they are sometimes like having a friend that can never tell your secrets
Over the years I have collected piles and piles of stuffed animals. Some are reminders of places I have visited and others are gifts from friends and family. Sometimes I even buy them for myself knowing that I will enjoy them for awhile and then find them a new home. I love to receive them and I thoroughly enjoy giving them too. There is nothing quite like finding just the right stuffed something for a friend; the smile it brings when they realize just how perfect it might be is a joy to me. The warm feeling I get when I take a pile to a charitable organization to share with a child during the holidays always makes me happy. Just for the sake of doing it, I try to share my love of stuffed animals with everyone I know, and I am happy to say that most are pleased with their new-found friends and the reference “comfort toys” is often the explanation.
Stuffed animals fill my world wherever I might be…home, office or travel. My home is decorated with them, Teddy Bears large and small, some made of acrylic fur with big bows around their necks, and some are dressed in silly clothes. There are character bears based on Star Trek characters and some are made of calico with button eyes while others are of terry cloth filled with beads.
My home computer workstation appears to have been attacked by Beanie Babies. All along the top of the computer desk shelves are beanies of various types, a moose, a beaver, a tiger, a leopard, a dog and a panther not to mention bears and more bears of various beanie colors. Then 2 large floppy bears lounge over the monitor while 2 small jointed ones dressed as Canadian Mounties keep watch. On one of the shelves there just happens to be a Harley Davidson bear, complete with boots and helmet and just to make him a bit unique a chainmail vest and earring. Spread around my computer might be a small stuffed wolf howling at a moon only he can see or a floppy kitty cat just lounging, while on the sofa arm is a lion pillow that I acquired recently. All of these lovely friends watch me as I do my net surfing, or keep me company as I chat with friends, or my favorite a special friend to hug during a long download or while watching a sad movie on my DVD drive.
Even at work I am surrounded by furry and/or beanie things. An anteater perhaps, or one of my favorite things, a spider encased in chainmail or a beanie bat, wings spread, hanging on a cube wall. A family of lions upon a shelf and not too far a way a group of 3 bears, no not those, just 3 non-related bears. While close by a penguin graces the top of a slinky… he isn’t doing anything in particular, just being there. On another shelf are Winnie the Pooh and company, with the King Lion from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer looking on. The computer is surrounded by lions and tigers and bears, oh my! A jaguar slinky lays next to my calculator waiting to help me think… A small beaver stares at me as I write my various letters and procedures Sure it may look unusual, but one thing I have learned is that no matter what you are doing or where you may be, if you can find a way to feel comfortable or at ease you are more productive and you can think much more clearly.
As a bonus, not one person can walk into my work area that a smile doesn’t soon cross their face, and it isn’t just because I am a nice person to work with either. Many times I have had a co-worker stomp around the corner with obvious anger in their hearts, they sometimes talk and sometimes they just look around. But with very few exceptions by the time they move on, their ire has cooled substantially and they are smiling. Every one of them knows where to come when they need to feel better.
In an office full of people this can be very important. I have even begun picking a seasonal bear to display for the entire office. He sits high on a cabinet top so everyone can see him, but not so high that he can not be reached for a good luck rub or a quick hug. I always try to find one that is just right and will bring a smile. Today if you were to look, you would see a bear all decked out for Valentine’s Day.
I picked out one of the Hallmark bears to share our space for a few weeks. He is a white bear with a slight blush on his cheeks. He is dressed as an aviator; his helmet is red and his goggles with heart shaped eye holes are purple.
He is wearing a red scarf with little purple hearts on either end. A red cardboard tag in the shape of an airplane which states “Love is in the Air” hangs from his wrist. I am sure he will raise many a chuckle from my co-workers as they go about their daily duties. I guess I just feel that if I can bring a little happiness to their day I should.
And then there is my car… Sure I guess lots of people have stuffed animals in the back window or along the dash, but how many actually carry them as passengers. To some degree it has become a bit of a joke with some of my friends and me and of course there is a story to go along with it. Isn’t there always…
Well, for whatever reason I did not choose to get my driver’s license until last year. If you have checked my web page you know I am a bit over the age for what by many is considered a youthful rite of passage. In any case I decided last year that I would learn how to drive and buy myself a car, and being one of those people that drives something nuts until it works out, that is exactly what I did.
As for the animals, it was my way of making the car mine. I started out small, really I did, finding little friends to sit in the back window that would not block the view. A few squatty toys to pose on the dash and keep me company as I run my errands or take my little day trips. Then before I knew it I had animals big enough to lounge over the seats, they fill them It was all because of a very special white tiger that I named WhiteTalon.
As you may have figured out I like to write stories and my friend Bry and I had just begun working on our Dreemlyn characters, my favorite being a female white tiger named SilverFur. I was in the local Target store walking through the toy section as I often do. As I turned down the aisle with stuffed animals, I could not help but notice a huge white tiger that seemed to be staring at me. I had never seen such regal beauty in a stuffed animal; he looked so real not like a toy at all. He took my breath away and I knew he belonged with me, I searched for a price and none was to be found. The only tag on him told of his manufacture in Toronto, Canada, and this of course clinched it for me. His size worried me. though– I was sure I would get to the counter and find out he was more than I should spend. Then I realized that since I was meant to have him, he would be affordable to me. Happily he rang up at just under 20 dollars US and I felt he was worth at least twice that. I was so very pleased and did not mind at all that he was too big to fit into a bag.
When I got him out to my car I perched him on the hood and began to take pictures. At first I thought maybe he could be my representation of SilverFur, but no there was a definite feel of male general to him and that is how he became WhiteTalon. I took several pictures of him lounging across the top of my car that day and then began to wonder where I would keep him. I decided he would love to sit beside me and watch me go from place to place. So far he has been a wonderful companion, I often reach over and rub his head while I wait for a light to change and I have even used him as a hat rest a time or two.
Since I found him, I also have found other large animals to share my travels. For a time I rode around with a huge wolf in my back seat, but was able to present him to a special friend recently. I could tell you about the new friends in my back seat, but I think I will keep them a secret. For the future owner does not yet know of their existence and I want him to be totally surprised when next we meet.
Eventually someone found SilverFur for me, interestingly enough in a candy store and yes once again she was the only one of her kind in the store and was reasonably priced. Currently she rides perched on WhiteTalon’s back as we ride from place to place. The time may come when she takes over the front passenger seat on her own and WhiteTalon will move to the back seat. I will know when the time is right.
Oh on those rare occasions when an actual human shares my car space I have to put my friends in the trunk. I always get them back to their customary place as soon as I can they seem to be very understanding. At least they have not chewed up the seats even when they have been left alone in the car for up to a week at a time. Just another one of those great things about stuffed animals, they are so forgiving.
Now you may think that only females would get excited about stuffed animals but I can assure you that every man I have ever given one to has smiled. Sure they may pat them on the head as opposed to giving them a hug but I every time they see that cuddly friend they will think about where it came from and smile. And I would not be at all surprised if a hug didn’t creep in from time to time either.
One of my male friends has a collection of friends that he calls the “Bedland Gang”. His stuffed friends are large and small, furry and cloth, ranging from turtles and fish to bears and jaguars and leopards too. He even carries one from place to place with him in his backpack or in his car, and takes one special one to work with him to share with his CO-workers. It is just amazing what a conversation piece a stuffed animal can be. So each time he goes to work he looks over his collection and finds one that he thinks will be a hit for that day.
So just remember whether trying to solve a dilemma in your work or personal life a soft cuddly friend can help. This Valentine’s Day as you think of something for your special someone(s) think of a stuffed animal as a possibility. Candy is very sweet indeed, but is soon gone and while flowers are very lovely they are soon gone as well. A sweet stuffed animal will be around forever and you will be remembered with many smiles for a very long time to come.
Oh, and guys, if you want to adorn that stuffed animal with a lovely piece of jewelry for your special lady that is a fine idea Happy Valentine’s Day my friends.
Be sure and come back soon for more discussion about toys that “”please the eye and engage the mind.”