the joy of JELLYCATS.


I start by typing “wooden toys for one year old” into the Amazon search bar. For a moment, I wish I was taking the girls to pick out a gift at the local toy store, Grandrabbits, for their cousin’s first birthday. An outing, as it were. Like we used to do. 

I see us as peach-faced and amicable, a slick page torn straight from a Sears Catalogue. I see us pulling toys down from the shelves to examine them, holding them to the light, with glossy smiles and jolly comments. 

Then I half-laugh to myself because the real-life image would more likely involve a blood sugar crash and a toy thrown in a fit of rage. There would also be a few discreet and unscripted moments of sweetness/hilarity that leave the experience—as a whole— as something that is deeply exhausting and yet moderately satisfying.

 

Unimpressed with my wooden search findings, I type in “plush turtle and hatchlings,” a random notion I'd seen somewhere. The idea of my little-man nephew, with his perpetual shock of backlit hair and idyllic acorn-face, playing with plush turtle hatchlings—? Yes, please. This is suddenly a story I want to see in the world.

 

But upon reading customer reviews to excess, I deduce that blind, no-inspection, internet-gifting can be a dangerous thing. A glorious item on the flat-web screen can be an utter disappointment in the grips of one’s own hands. 

 

There we are again—in my thoughts, in the stuffed-toy section of Grandrabbits. The girls are picking out a stuffy for their baby cousin. I paint them as patient and jolly, a Norman Rockwell fantasy. In real life, though, there would be at least one plush stuffy that gets stepped on with muddy shoes, one with a sticky lollipop stuck in its ear and likely one that gets clenched by Ruth’s over-lotioned hands, and thus must be purchased. 

 

Thankful to be shopping in my pajamas with a pleasant beer buzz right now? Indeed I am.


~~~

 

But let's get something straight: not all stuffed animals are created equally. A cheap stuffed animal—dime-store polyester thing that is rough to the touch and has the consistency of a college dormroom beanbag chair—is guaranteed to disappoint and/or insult. 

 

But there is one brand I feel confident to send blindly and without inspection: JELLYCAT. 


(Printed in Hollywood Neon Font. Simply saying the word to myself sends a boost of nourishment to my parasympathetic nervous system, ie my ability to chill the fuck out.)

 

~~~

 

We were introduced to our first Jellycat Stuffy when Opal was 5-months-old, from a dear friend Steph—a floppy-eared grey Bunny, termed “B” by baby Opal. The thing must've smelled to Opal like an ancestor, it was an instant love affair that lasted five years. Ruth inherited at least six Jellycats at birth from Opal, (they are much easier to acquire now than they were a decade ago) but she didn’t find her most cherished one until a friend gave her a black-and-white Jellycat puppy. And lo, Roof-roof was part of our family. 

 

It’s a numbers game, but if a stuffed animal is deemed special enough by the child, as are B and Roof-roof, they could be around for upwards of a decade—even two!—propped somewhere in the vicinity of the bed, witnessing as the child grows out of other toys and games, his room evolving around him. 

 

~~~

 

An hour later, a Jellycat bear had been ordered and was heading through all the unknown delivery channels to wind up on the porch of my little nephew, a bearhug in a box, the softest thing he would ever touch with his teeny fingers. AN HOUR seemed like a lengthy, time-sucking process until I considered how we used to spend an afternoon at the mall looking for ONE GIFT, though we knew not what that gift was until we saw it in the store, on the shelf. And it was all punctuated by people-watching and Cinnabon-eating, walking with the crowd as if in a school of fish. 


It was as if there was all the time in the world to be holding things up to the light, among strangers, not unconsciously measuring the physical distance between us. 

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