This stuffed blue dog had me crying and smiling like a fool on this past Christmas morning. It may seem absolutely foolish to you; a 40-year-old woman crying tears of happiness because she was gifted a stuffed animal. But this blue dog is so much more; he’s love. He’s Blue II.
I’m sure everyone has a memory of receiving an absolutely perfect gift on Christmas. Every time I think of mine, I am transported back to my 3rd Christmas. I woke up in the middle of night, hair a mess (my hair was a disaster until puberty) and clothed in pink feetsie pajamas. I wanted so badly to see if Santa had come, but I was petrified of going downstairs myself. I summoned up all the courage I had in my tiny toddler body and made it half way down the stairs; just enough that I could see into our living room, but not enough that the boogey man could steal me away. Lo and behold, Santa had come! And there by the tree, with all the wrapped gifts, was a rocking chair that was just my size. My eyes were wide with joy. I couldn’t believe I had my own rocking chair! I instantly ran into my parents’ room announcing that we just had to go downstairs. Like normal people, they sent me back to bed. I laid, wide awake, in my bed the rest of the night anticipating sitting in that rocking chair in the morning.
For years, this was the story of my favorite Christmas gift.
Until this year when a blue dog entered my life.
I guess you’re wondering why this toy meant the world to me or maybe you’re not, but too bad because this blog is about one of my favorite stuffed animals and consequently, the one who came, 32 years later, to heal the wound of losing the first one.
Blue, the original, became a part of our family more than 40 years ago.
My brother was an only child for the first 6 and ½ years of his life. You would think that he loved this, but, according to our mother, he was utterly tired of being the only one and was even more annoyed at being considered the baby. When I came along, he was thrilled. I wasn’t the little brother he wanted, but I would do. Let’s be honest, he lucked out with me. And I can say this with total confidence, he would agree. We compliment one another well.
“Pre-Alyson”, my brother was given a stuffed a blue dog that our mom received as a grab gift at a work Christmas party. The dog was very Snoopy-like with floppy black ears, except, well, he was blue. Creative as he is, my brother named the dog Blue. (I should say, my brother is actually very creative. I just like to get some digs in cause hi, I’m a little sister). Blue became my brother’s favorite stuffed animal for a few years.
The day I was brought home from the hospital. My brother proudly, and without hesitation, gave his beloved Blue to me as a welcoming gift. I, of course, as a newborn had no idea, but as I got older, the story was often told to me. Blue became my best friend. He went everywhere with me. I think that even as a small child I understood what Blue was; he was an extension of my brother’s love for me. My brother gave up his favorite toy to make his little sister smile. He sacrificed for me; something he has done often throughout our lives.
Blue survived many trips with us; I kept a vigilant eye on my buddy. He made it to and from Canada on a family road trip; that I’m often surprised I survived (I have vague memories of being a royal brat on that trip). He went to Disney World with us (and, of course, I can’t find the only picture of Blue that exists that is from this Disney trip). Every Sunday, we went to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner and I’m almost positive that Blue never missed a meal there.
Blue was just always there for me. He comforted me at night when I was afraid, played with me during the day when I was bored; he was around whenever I was lonely and just needed a hug. Yet, he never become offended if I had to leave him for a few hours.
He even gladly shared his ‘favorite’ status when we celebrated my first report card and I was allowed to pick out one toy from the Child World, a local toy store. I brought home an Ewok from “Star Wars” whose name I could never pronounce. Said Ewok is now Rocky even though in my adulthood I have no issues saying Princess Kneesaa. For 2 years, Rocky and Blue shared the coveted stuffed animal spot of being on my bed. They slept with me, watched tv with me, hung out with me in my fort. You get the idea. They were both my constant companions.
Then we were moving. Can you feel the dread?
We were only moving to the other side of our city, but to an 8 year we may as well have been moving to the other side of the country. I’d be changing schools, not near any of my friends and leaving a home I adored. I was devastated and frightened. We packed up everything. It felt like I was leaving behind my whole world even though everything we owned was coming with us.
On one of the drives to the new home, a bag of my stuffed animals fell off my father’s truck. He wouldn’t stop to get it. I have no idea why. I don’t even think my father knows why. And I bet if asked, he’d tell you he regrets not stopping because it’s 32 years later and my brother and I are still giving him crap for this.
Once the truck was unloaded and the bags of stuffed animals brought into my new bedroom, I desperately started ripping open the bags. Rocky made his appearance instantly. As I went through, each animal in the bags, my heart began to sink. Tears filled my eyes. Blue was gone. I begged my dad to go back to find that bag. No luck. Instead I began to unpack the boxes in my room as I balled my eyes out.
It may sound melodramatic, but it was heart break I would never get over. I was always sensitive. Even as a small child, I valued the gifts that were given to me. I saved cards and letters. Basically, I was born an old soul.
Blue was so much more than a stuffed animal. He was the epitome of unconditional love. When a 7-year-old child gifts you their favorite stuffed animal, it’s one of the purest acts in this world. It’s coming straight from their heart. Blue was lost when I was almost 8. I was just slightly older than my brother when he gave Blue to me and maybe I didn’t totally understand the depth behind the act then, but I could feel the emotional value.
We talked about Blue often in our house which may seem a little weird, but it was truly the first sentimental gift I was ever given. He was also a toy that both my brother and I loved which was rare since the age difference between us was significant then, 6 and 1/2 years is quite the difference when you’re a child.
Years later, in Disneyworld, with my brother and his children, the topic of Blue came up. My brother admitted he had scoured the internet looking for him, but could never find him. Jason, my husband, mentioned he had looked as well. And this right here is how much this stuffed dog meant to me, both my brother and my husband had spent a considerable amount of time trying to reunite Blue and I. (And as I write this, it’s just occurring to me, what a gesture of love that is from both of them). We didn’t know anything about Blue except what he looked like. Children don’t pay attention to who made what toy. And trust me, searching for a blue dog on eBay brings up thousands of results. None of which are my Blue.
My dad rolled his eyes in Disney. He couldn’t believe we were still going on about this stuffed dog who probably cost $10 in 1970-something.
Fast forward to a few weeks before last Christmas, my brother sends me a text that says he mailed presents for Christmas because he couldn’t get back to Boston this year. He ends that text with “one is just for you from me. It’s to replace a gift from long ago” and, in my heart, I instantly knew.
I wasn’t silly enough to think that he had found our exact blue dog, but I knew he was sending along someone to replace, no that’s a bad choice of words, to lessen the blow of losing our friend.
That morning, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to wait to open that gift or go right for it.
I grabbed that gift first though. I slowly opened it and saw the first hint of blue fur. I was right. It was not our original one, but I’m actually glad it wasn’t. Nothing could replace Blue, but this gift was a true testament to the love my brother has for me. Yes, the tears came easily.
My brother and I will always be connected. We will always be best friends. And we will always share the love for a blue stuffed dog that was lost in March of 1986 on some backroad in Quincy, Ma.