Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gratuitous Bear of the New Year

About a year ago I decided that I really had to curb my bearaholic tendencies or else Hoarders would come and start an intervention at my house. I told myself I could continue with the Medal Bears, as long as they were small, but I needed to stop accumulating big bears. This notion was reinforced last summer when I faced the prospect of winnowing through my mom's possessions. I felt that my needing to own more things was unnecessary and was just a displacement of other emotions that I wasn't facing. Nice little self-psychobabble, huh?

My one medal bear last year was from Chicago for my Chicago Marathon medal and was in fact small. I never found a bear for my Solvang Century medal; neither a bear representing cycling nor the Solvang area. I counted my Tri Teddy as a 2008 bear, even though I really dressed her in 2009.

I slipped in my conviction during the summer when I was in Las Vegas. We were wandering around the shops and cruised into a toy shop (I know, what was I thinking?). Apparently while I wasn't paying attention Steiff started a line of less expensive bears. I certainly wouldn't have bought a $150 classic teddy, but these were different. This is a line of "cloud soft plush" bears that come in their very own suitcase for a reasonable low price. My resistance slipped away and Bree and I spent quite a bit of time finding the perfect bear to take home with me (you know, of course, that if you're buying a bear in the store you must find the one with the best facial expression, best balanced body, etc. You can't just buy one willy-nilly off the shelf). With help from my sis I named her Bubble, because she looked like a big, soft bubble.

During the later summer when I was so frantic with trying to care for my hospitalized mom, my sis sent me Tinkerbearr. This sweet fairy bear helped me cope and gave me comfort when it was badly needed.

In fall that crack-dealer to bearaholics, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, started developing new types of bears. The one that struck me the most was the Soft, Floppy Bear (which by the way, VTB, is really hard to find on your website). It just looked so CUTE! And it was low priced and I was depressed and yes, I once again displaced my feelings of sadness and despair with buying a new bear. It worked. Wow, what a bear! I was very impressed by the warm, squishy softness of a bear that seemed to hug back. I did manage to not buy one of their Go Green Bears (but give me time ...).

Last fall, this early winter, in fact the entire year was a tough one for not only my own family, but for so many of my friends. There were job losses, there was illness, there were injuries and there was death. If ever the comfort of a bear was necessary, it was 2009.

There was one more bear to come, one more surprise, one gift above all gifts. After our walk on Saturday, Bree gave me a gift and told me it was for various and assorted occasions (birthdays past and future, Christmas, Hanukkah). It was a large box, wrapped in very cute paw-print wrapping paper. I tore open the top of the wrap and knew immediately from the box exactly where it had come from. Yes, I know a VTB box when I see one.

My hands started shaking and I sat down. I broke the tape on the box and lifted out a bear I had coveted since I first saw it on the website. My eyes filled with tears and my breath caught in my throat. I lifted out the beautiful little bear and gave it a hug.

I reached a little deeper into the box and pulled out the bear's little stuffed penguin. Nothing like a bear having her very own stuffie.

Having spent not a little time with me in a toy shop choosing a bear, and even more time trying to find a perfect medal bear in varying locations, Bree knows exactly what a bear means to me. I don't think she realizes what receiving a perfect bear from a friend means to me. I've received many bears from friends, some damn fine bears from some damn good friends. But Bree had an even tougher 2009 than I had. Despite that, she spent time to think about me, to go out of her way to visualize what I'd like, to order and surprise me this way with something very personal and meaningful to me.

Do I have the best friends, or what?

Thank you Bree!

(L-R) Tinkerbearr, Feather, Bree LaBear and her mighty penguin Nitro

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