Saturday, January 19, 2013


Recently I was tidying up some old cupboards and came across a very tattered, thinly covered pink rabbit. Tears overwhelmed me, and I sat there, cuddling that rabbit from long ago, while memories flooded back. 

That well worn rabbit was my companion for so many years… she knew all my childhood secrets, heard all my frustrations, consoled me when I was sad, rejoiced with me when I was happy. I don’t know who gave me my dear friend, I just know that as a little girl, I loved her so. 

She was so cuddly, with long floppy ears and the cutest little nose. I imagined her running through the paddocks, with me hanging on to her, carrying us to who knows where. I don’t remember her having any other name other than pink bunny, which was a fair enough name for a little pink rabbit. At night, she was my pillow and guided me through my dreams. I had other toys, but none held such a special place in my heart.

For our son, it was his ‘bydie’, a fluffy pink and blue checked blanket bound in satin, which was his constant companion. There was no going anywhere without bydie. It remained part of our family till it was nothing more than a few threads, held together by multiple machining over pieces of paper, then the paper soaked away. To this day, the remnants remain in his baby book. Big Teddy, Georgie Monkey and a number of other soft toys were part of his life, but bydie was the favourite. 

For our daughter, it was a pink elephant, with lovely checked ears. She accompanied her everywhere, even to New Zealand on holiday, but sadly was lost over there. She also had to have a bydie, according to her big brother, so he used to get her pink blanket and bring that with us... two bydies and two children, and all was well with the world. 

I remember my mother talking about a little rag doll, the only doll she ever had… my father recalls playing with jacks made of knuckle bones, also marbles… no manufactured toys otherwise. He and his brothers did make billy carts, with whatever scraps they could find and old wheels scrounged from the local tip, or dump.

My husband, who has always lived in a city, had a favourite plastic car with friction drive which was his special toy for many years. When he ‘outgrew’ playing with that as it was meant to be, he tied it with a rope and dragged it around behind his bike.

All this made me wonder about the toys, if any, that my grandparents had…did they do as my parents mostly did? Make their own, with whatever was available? Life was so different then, and they were both from larger families ... there was little time for play, so little need for toys. I recall my aunt saying that she never had a doll, but she did have a wooden dolly peg, wrapped in cloth, that she used to carry around in her pocket. Not for them the glamorous picture of hula hoops and spinning tops… no china dolls, nor fancy trikes.  As I see the enormous number of toys that my grandchildren have, and yes, I did give them many of them, I cannot help but wonder how they would feel about no electronic toys, no, or very few, soft toys.

Children don’t really change. If their imagination was fostered and nurtured as ours certainly was, I’m sure they would have been very happy playing with my dress up box, which I kept under the tankstand. Scraps of fabric, old clothes, feathers taken from non complaining hens, broken beads… anything and everything that took my eye, became the adornment of princesses; the means to create fairy wings or the clothes of a pirate on the high seas… all of these wonderful items, stirred in with a good dollop of imagination and a small girl could be transported wherever she dreamed.

For my grandchildren, it is my large collection of buttons, all sizes, colours, shapes, made of everything imaginable, that has kept them occupied for years, along with their craft box. This I’ve filled with the usual pencils, paints, crayons, glue, scissors and so on, but also with scraps of fabric, waste paper, old cards and lots of different textured items. Like children gone before, foster the imagination and develop the child.

Crissouli ©

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  1. What a lovely post, Crissouli. I now have a job -to find my Teddy and naje sure he is ok.

  2. Please do, Jill, Teddys get very lonely when resting in cupboards... they like to come out to play now and then. I had one teddy when I was tiny, but my Mum stored it away till I was older. When she unpacked it, it was moth eaten, so that was the end of Teddy. There were no more Teddys till I turned 40 and a friend started what has become quite a collection... for another significant birthday, I had a Teddy Bear's Picnic... great fun...
    I still treasure Pink Rabbit though. ;-)

  3. A lovely post Chris -I'm so pleased you had pink bunny to sustain and console you. My teddy went to my eldest child and as far as I know she still has it (perhaps languishing in a storage facility in Canberra at present). Mr Cassmob used to give me cuddly toys when we were courting -many have now passed on to another life. I think Daughter #3 had more cuddlies than anyone else I know ;-) Mum said when she was small they only had black fabric to dress their dolls in which is why she now hates black.

  4. Any man that gives cuddly toys is well worth keeping... :-) My grandchildren have been inundated with cuddly toys, quite a few from us. They hate to part with any of them and each has their own treasures, especially their pillow pals. I wouldn't mind some of them myself...They can all be great companions. I used to make peg dolls, sometimes rag dolls, and use whatever scraps I could find... cast off clothes were a great source, though I did end up with some strange combinations thinking back.

  5. Ohhh... the memories come flooding back. MY Ted got lost in the hospital when my eldest (aged 18 mths) was getting stitched up and then had to spend a week there. My daughter's "bear" which went everywhere was "darned" all over, and then the overalls Auntie made to keep his innards in had to be patched. My eldest ringing me from the hospital as his wife was about to give birth to their first born because he just HAD to put "doggie" in the babe's crib... lots of washing, sterilising and drying on my part :-) ... my younger son who couldn't sleep without all his "soft" toys sharing his pillow, not to mention "dog" which finally went home with him Sep 2012 but I'm not ready yet to give up his "big bear" which sat in my big bro's high chair last Christmas Day decked out in my youngest Grandchild's baby's bib and Chrissie cap from 6 years ago.
    I hold that beautiful story "The Velveteen Rabbit" totally responsible for my strange behaviour and that of my chickadees... ha ha ha. Thanks for bringing back the memories Chris... sorry for "rabbiting on". pun intended!!!

  6. Don't be sorry, Catherine... 'rabbiting on' is perfectly welcome here... I thought when I posted this, that there must be numerous stories out there and memories to be rediscovered. How fortunate are we to have had such great companions through our childhood and beyond. Our little friends become part of our lives, they know all our secrets, all our joys, all our pain and best of all, they ask nothing... just to be loved.

    Every newborn always receives a soft toy from me, sometimes a teddy, sometimes a soft toy that catches my eye and begs to belong to whomever I have in mind, sometimes I make them... for in doing that, I am giving them a refuge, a friend, and hopefully a lifetime of memories as shared here.

  7. Oh yes... and the child will pick the favoured one which "speaks" to them :-) ... Oh, I do think that you've got more than just a touch of the Irish "un-wordliness" about you Chris... so wonderful!!!

  8. What a lovely thing to say, Catherine, thank you. I adore children and appreciate how often their own feelings get put aside in this busy world of ours... We all need a special friend, whatever form it takes.


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