I’m not the only grown-up who thinks so. A.A. Milne thought so. Margery Williams thought so. Kate DiCamillo thinks so.
The guys at Pixar obviously think so.
I bawled through much of Toy Story 3. I teared up when Woody and Buzz and the other toys talked of being outgrown, and of heading off for a long, dark sojourn in the attic, or worse, being thrown out with the trash.
I thought guiltily of all my toys that were consigned to the attic, only to be forgotten, all of them.
Except for one.
Clarence, the big stuffed lion.
Named for the cross-eyed lion on the old TV show Daktari. He was a sleeping lion, positioned lying down, with his eyes closed. He was bigger than my 2-year-old self. He used to have a little shiny gold crown, but it was lost long ago.
I don’t know how old I was when I got him. I never knew where he came from. My mother told me years later that an uncle won him at a fair, and gave him to me.
Clarence went everywhere with me. We were stranded on desert islands, and explored fearsome jungles. We were frequently lost at sea, adrift on a raft, where Clarence protected us from sharks, while I made sure none of the other smaller stuffed animals fell overboard.
He was there when I was sad and needed somebody to hug.
He was there when I was happy and needed somebody to hug.
As I grew older, he became my favorite place to snuggle up and read.
When I was in high school, Clarence was consigned to the attic – prematurely, apparently, because I used to sneak up there and visit him.
He should have come to college with me, but he didn’t. He stayed behind, in the attic, wrapped in a trash bag.
Twenty years and two kids later, the attic was cleared out, and Clarence emerged from hibernation, along with several other of my childhood toys. I didn’t remember any of them. There were several stuffed animals.
There was a shoebox full of Legos that wound up in my son’s room and immediately began replicating.
There were Barbies, of course, including a vintage 1960s model who would probably be worth some money now if I hadn’t given her a haircut. There were also Barbie clothes and doll clothes that my grandmother made, and doll furniture that my father made. I prize those … but I don’t love them.
I wish I still had my Lite-Brite. And my original Matchbox track. And my Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker, which turned hot plastic goop into bugs.
For his part, Clarence now sits in a place of honor in my daughter’s room. His fur is a bit faded, and his stuffing has lost a lot of its “stuff.” But he’s still the fiercest shark fighter I know. My daughter makes sure to take him along on her raft trips.