I love buying stuffed animals.
For the little kids in my life. For my niece Sophie. For me.
Truth is, even though I’m a boomer, I’m still a baby when it comes to the joy I find in all manner of toys cute and cuddly. While my informal collection includes mostly dogs and cats, I’ve got a couple of bears and a frog tossed in for good measure.
Although a couple of them are seasonal, trotted out only around Christmas, many are in full display year-round throughout our home.
One, however, never makes any public appearances. Instead, he lives quietly, tucked away in a tissue-lined shoebox on the top shelf of our bedroom closet.
His name in Frou-Frou. Or maybe it’s Fru-Fru. I’m really not sure how it’s spelled because he was a gift to me when I was born. Making him 65 years old.
I hadn’t recently thought of Frou-Frou until this past week when I saw a story about a little girl who’d lost her beloved stuffed giraffe at Logan Airport. The child was “heartbroken,” as her mom noted in a tweet that included a photo of “Hornzy Twigs,” a small pink critter that looked more like E.T. than a giraffe.
As of Friday night, H.T. hadn’t been found, despite more than 16,000 retweets of the plea.
I’m not surprised by that response. I don’t know too many kids — adult kids included — who haven’t formed special bonds with stuffed pals.
My Frou-Frou slept with me every night until I was about 10. Except for one night when I was 5 and couldn’t find him. Turns out I was playing a game and had hidden him behind a chair, then forgotten where I put him.
Thankfully, Mom found him the next day. After I’d cried myself to sleep the previous night.
Over the years, Frou-Frou — who started out very plush — began to show his age. He was restuffed a couple of times (with my grandmother’s white nurse’s nylons), but not much could be done to restore his fluffiness.
Eventually, he became threadbare and the fabric on his back ripped open. (Which is how I discovered the nurse’s nylons.)
Yet even as Frou-Frou grew older and infirm, he remained the stuffed love of my life. When I no longer snuggled him as I went to sleep, he held a place of honor on my bed pillows.
He came with me to college, then after Hank and I married, moved with me to our Dartmouth home.
That’s where, for nearly four decades now, Frou-Frou has spent the bulk of his days in the shoebox on our bedroom closet shelf.
But every so often, I’ll come upon him, lift him from his bed and smile.
I’m thinking it’s time to visit Frou-Frou again soon and take him out for a bit of air.
Or better still, a loving cuddle.