(Write about a character passing down their favorite childhood toy to a new
They say looking back is futile. Whatever is back there cannot be changed, it is too late to alter history or the facts, even on a very personal level, but I know, in my mind, looking back can bring understanding.
Christmas was a few weeks ago. We, my husband and I, have a sweet and loving five year old son. The weeks before Christmas were one continuing, non stop series of lectures.
After putting our son to bed, sometime during the evening, my husband would invariably ask, “Did you make Sears and Roebuck richer today?” Or he might ask about KMart or one of the local stores. The point being, he was sure I was overdoing the toy purchases.
If truth be told, I did get excited with each new purchase and I would scold myself, “OK now, that’s enough, no matter what else you see, no matter how perfect the toy is, “No More”. And then I would see something else and I would try to rationalize or justify buying just one more thing!
The pile of wrapped gifts grew and grew, expanding to under our bed, sticking out of the shelves in our closet, hidden in laundry baskets with towels on top to hide the bright wrappings. I knew my husband was going to blow a gasket, not so much the money, but rather the excess.
I remember getting half annoyed with him for making it such a big deal. Christmas only comes once a year and for that wonderful time of love and giving, excess did not exist.
He would then tell me about his typical Christmas, as though that had anything to do with how things are today. He felt fortunate indeed as some of his neighborhood friends received no presents at all, but HE always received a new pair of hand knit mittens from his grandmother, a new pair of knee socks to wear with his knickers and new super white underpants. He was super delighted to be warm and clean and no more holes in his underwear. And then he would give me this look….as though I was too dense to understand….he received important things...not toys! Of course I would counter that look with a statement about him being too serious and too sour on life, maybe he needed more toys when he was a kid!
In my case, we were a really poor family with a bunch of kids and we hand made things too, but pretty things, fun things, things that made you smile or cheap dime store things, colorful and fun. And so you see, I am driven by fun, I could never understand his sour approach to such a giving and joyous time.
I think I have it now, this year was an eye opener for me and maybe, just maybe, my husband saw a bit of light shine on his long held views too.
When the grandparents arrived, my husband’s folks, they had one large package for our son and an envelope with money to put away for college. The envelope got torn open and thrown on the floor fairly quickly as the kid only had eyes for the bright colorful gift. His granddad insisted on helping him open it so the gift paper could be saved to reuse.
Inside the bright paper was a Grover doll, from the Muppets TV show. It was nearly as tall as our son. It was in a box with a clear cellophane or plastic covering. There was a hole in the covering to pull a string and Grover would say a few words.
Granddad held the toy just out of reach of our son and his lecture began.
“Now you must leave Grover in this box, he will stay nice and clean and you can pull this string and he will talk to you! You will have him a long time and he will stay like new” Don’t remove the cellophane, it’s there so you can see him but he will stay clean!”
I laughed and truly thought it was a joke. I questioned how a child was supposed to snuggle up with a box! How could a child love something he couldn’t get close to?
My husband sided with his Father and told our son to listen to Granddad.
Granddad finally handed the toy to our confused son who tried to pull the string without really touching anything.
I was appalled!
It took three days of watching our son briefly sitting with this toy, occasionally, half heartedly pulling the string out part way and then moving off to play with his other well used, slightly broken and I’m sure a bit dirty toys, before my husband declared one evening that his son was not grateful for this nice toy or he didn’t like it.
I just shook my head, feeling so bad for my husband and son. I said in a loud sarcastic way, “You must let him feel the toy, enjoy the touching, the playing, the personal loving of “his” toy. It is not a sterile thing, it is a living thing!” HOW can it become “his” friend or even “his” toy if he can’t handle it, enjoy it?”
My husband got up quickly and left the room. The chill he left behind would freeze water!
I could hear him upstairs, in the room overhead, our bedroom, rummaging around in the storage area under the eaves. Soon he returned and he had a toy still wrapped in cellophane. I will admit that I had never seen this toy before, what a complete surprise!
The toy was a lovely white horse with black mane and tail, it was fairly large, it was standing on a black shiny platform with red wheels, there was a cord for a child to use to pull the horse along behind him as he walked. This horse had never been unwrapped, or pulled along a hardwood floor or kitchen linoleum or any floor. It was like new!
My husband looked as if he might cry but quickly got himself under control. “I was never allowed to play with it! It sat on a shelf in my bedroom! My Dad would comment on how proud he was of me for keeping it clean! I came to hate this horse!”
He crossed the room and tore the wrapping off of the Grover doll. Then he unwrapped his own toy. The first time in thirty five years that it had been unwrapped.
I just sat there feeling so sad for my husband. We never know what kind of life a person has had growing up. He was never abused in the typical way we think of abuse today but he grew up without most displays of outward affection.
Raising a child is more than food and shelter, damn, they learn by example. I wonder how confused our son must be with my over generous ways and his father’s over practical ways.
We sat there together, looking at the Horse and the Grover doll, my husband’s arm slipped over my shoulder and he said, “with your help, together we will figure this out!”