I don't usually worry too much about lost toys, partly because they almost always turn up but also partly because in our toy-abundant home, it's unlikely their loss will be too tragic.
There are a few exceptions whose loss would be tragic. Our newly-acquired Pillow Pets would, I'm sure, cause much strife if they disappeared, but only because they're so imporant in the childhood zeitgeist of 2010.
Fern is the other kind of toy. Fern is the rare toy that holds lasting emotional value. Fern was a present to me when I was born, making her 33 years old. She's a handmade treasure, with individually knotted yarn hairs and embroidered facial features and a ricrac-trim pinafore and removable bloomers. A close inspection reveals that she's a little discolored and a little stained and a little lumpy from years of being loved and slept on and used as a pillow and washing-machine bathed. We brought her to live in Maryland after our last visit to my parents' house and both girls love her. I love her, because she's a security blanket of old as well as a gift from a woman who has been exceedingly generous to me my whole life, a woman who's known me since before I could know myself. Those characters are so important in our developing narratives, aren't they?
The Gift Season is approaching us. In a discussion on cake baking today with a friend, she laughed at me when I said I need to learn a technique she showed me for my upcoming Cake Season. The kids' birthdays are in December, January and February; Chanukah is in December; as is my birthday; and we have relatives' birthdays throughout December and January. So truly we have a Gift Season.
I've been thinking about Fern, and updating the kids' wishlists so they get gifts that reflect their current interests: scientific exploration and fairies and unicorns for E; firefighters and animals for L; and tactile and chewing exploration for G. (He really doesn't need much, does he?) I've done wishlists for them for so long because our faraway family doesn't know their daily fads and quirks, and doesn't listen to me when I say "don't buy" or "buy small." If the kids are going to be spoiled rotten, I've figured, at least it should be well-aimed spoiling.
But look at Fern. Thirty-three years old, nearly 34. And lookin' good. So: how to I cultivate the receiving and stewardship of belongings in this house toward one where we prioritize quality over quantity? I don't discount the pleasure of participating in fads. But I want the ratio of made-in-Chinas:Ferns to start reversing course.
We should all have a Fern. Mine was lost for a little while today but I'm happy to report she was found safely, buried in a pile of afghans where she had been covertly cuddled by a runaway (to the living room) two-year-old. There are easily 100 stuffed animals and dolls in this house. She knows quality when she sees it.