What was my favorite childhood Christmas present?
I loved getting toys and dolls and books and all sorts of things, because beneath my childish exterior beat the heart of a truly materialistic soul. I still love things, though most of that love has transmuted from the need to acquire into the need to create.
But my favorite childhood Christmas present is one I don’t remember getting, though it’s one I still have. For my first Christmas I received a teddy bear from our neighbors, a perfectly reasonable gift for a baby.
Most children have a favorite toy, and this bear was that toy for me. His name is Fred, though obviously at not-yet-a-year-old I didn’t name him. I don’t know who did, actually–I never asked my parents. Maybe I did name him later when I could talk. I just know that his name is Fred.
I slept with him every night until I was ten or so and finally decided that I was getting too old for that. But he still went with me everywhere. He came along on every vacation–still does. (I am not sentimental about much, but I never travel without him with me. Mom joked once that I should make him his own passport.)
He’s old now, too fragile to be handled much–I keep him on one of my bookshelves. His fur is faded, matted, worn right through in spots. His nose used to stick out, but now it’s flattened back into his face, and I’ve had to sew him shut a few times over the years to keep his insides inside.
But he still gives the best bear hugs.