By Sophia Pan, Co-Editor-in-Chief In a year that feels like an unending storm at sea, stuffed animals have been my life jacket. There is something about cute fabric toys with plush filling inside that comforts me like nothing else in this world can. Stuffed animals are like guardian angels, holding a lifetime of memories, warmth...
By Sophia Pan, Co-Editor-in-Chief
In a year that feels like an unending storm at sea, stuffed animals have been my life jacket. There is something about cute fabric toys with plush filling inside that comforts me like nothing else in this world can. Stuffed animals are like guardian angels, holding a lifetime of memories, warmth and love, and there is no shame in treasuring them the way they have treasured us.
I never had siblings or pets, so I have always held on extra tightly to stuffed toys. When I was an infant, my parents got me an orange, bean-filled clownfish bigger than I was, a toy that I loved because it smelled like Mom. Now, that clownfish takes her seat at the throne atop my wardrobe, weak from years of love, her beans half-gone and her fabric mended with cloth patches of pastel polka dots that my grandmother added. Even though I have since had to retire my oldest guardian angel out of fear of her literally falling apart in my arms, she continues to radiate comfort, watching over me from the corner of my room.
Though my clownfish has retired, I continue to hold on to the heap of other stuffed animals I have amassed over the years. They remind me of precious memories from their origins and their travels. For instance, Schwimmweste, my stuffed elephant that transforms into a neck pillow, has memories of the trip to Europe when I named him after the German word for life vest, borrowed from the safety announcement on the plane ride there. Pickles, my fluffy brown puppy plush with a felt Villanova University shirt, reminds me of overnight summer camp, when she oversaw all the snack trades I did in my dorm hall. Dottie, the creatively-named dalmatian toy I bought from the IKEA furniture store, reminds me of a cruise my parents took me on years ago, where I dragged her with me everywhere on the ship.
Those memories have become even more valuable over the past year, with pandemic restrictions that severely limited in-person social interactions. Weathering the nosedive that my mental health has taken without those interactions would have been a thousand times more difficult without stuffed animals. As my friends stood at the CDC-recommended distance of 6 feet away, stuffed animals were there to provide hugs and support.
In the year and a half that I spent cooped up in my bedroom fearing COVID-19, I have fallen asleep with a stuffed animal in my bed every night. For the holidays, my parents bought me a big, neon-pink whale at my request, and now I fall asleep with him in my arms. Although plush toys seem like just stuffed fabric and button eyes, they are imbued with a warmth that is incredibly valuable when the going gets tough.
Everyone deserves to have that token of comfort, whether it’s a stuffed animal or a trinket or an old shirt from a treasured friend. But, for those of you who are like me and have walked the walk with stuffed animals in hand, give that fluffy friend an extra hug.
Take no shame in needing comfort sometimes. Take no shame in loving your stuffed animals. They have loved you unconditionally all these years, and they will continue to love you far into the future.
Sophia Pan can be reached at [email protected]
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