As children around the world are leaving letters to Father Christmas I thought I would tell you about my most treasured childhood toy.
The above is photo evidence that from a very young age I was blessed to have a number of soft toys given to me by family and friends.
I have fond memories of all my toys and like all children I had my favourites, and out of my favourites I had my best most-loved cuddly toy who was simply called Fox.
Foxes had become my favourite animal after developing my first geek-obsession for the Animals of Farthing Wood. I have shared before how obsessed I was with that programme and what the character of Fox meant to me.
One day Mum and Dad took my brother and me to Ikea for a family outing. I assume that there was a practical reason behind this trip but I can’t remember it now. Josh and I loved going to Ikea; we would explore all these pretend rooms in a giant maze, test out every chair and bed we could find and eat Daim bars.
We were nearly at the end of the shop where we came upon a toy section and in the middle was a row of big grey barrels. Josh and I stood on our tip toes to look inside one and lo and behold it was crammed full of foxes! I was delighted!
Maybe Mum and Dad had already decided to treat us that day, maybe they appreciated how important Animals of Farthing Woods was to me, maybe these toys were very cheap but whatever the reason, my brother and I were allowed to choose one toy each.
I took hold of a fox and named him Fox. Josh chose a hedgehog from the next barrel over and called him Henry. Josh may have a stronger dose of imagination than me!
Fox is small and has a strange pose. He sits upright but his head is turned slightly to the side as if something has just caught his attention. If you sit him so that he is facing you it was easy to imagine that these intelligent brown eyes are giving you their full attention. He looked like he was thinking something, always a moment away from speaking.
From that day on Fox replaced Sarah the Teddy, as top dog in my gang of toys. It could have easily turned into a Buzz/Woody drama but I was a diplomatic child. Sarah and my other favourite toys still had a place at the bottom of my bed, whist Fox would sleep in my arms. Sarah was second in command and would lead the group when Fox went out on special scouting missions. Everyone was happy!
Fox was a part of nearly all my games, he came on holidays with us and was there at all the sleepovers, until our interests moved on from midnight feasts to Johnny Depp movie marathons!
It’s funny looking through Mum and Dad’s old photos how often Fox pops in the albums! I think it shows how often I had him to hand.
Over the years toys were passed on, lost and gradually re-homed from my bed. Fox was always kept to hand because it never felt right to put him into a box or worse, to throw him away.
His white fur is a bit grey now, and his tail is getting a bit delicate at the base from the many times he has been swung like a helicopter. When I eventually moved out of Mum and Dad’s, Fox came with me. He now sits on top of a tall bookshelf overlooking our study.
The funny thing is that in my Dad’s study at home, on top of a bookshelf is another old toy. This one is a golden teddy bear that was my dad’s favourite childhood toy. I have even seen the photo of Dad holding the teddy as young boy.
I like to think that in rooms across the country, maybe across the world there are veteran teddy’s and toys sitting proudly in places of honour, too precious to throw away.
I wonder if there should be a Christmas tradition where Mum and Dads and Grandparents bring out their old favourite toys and share stories of times of play from long ago!
Can you imagine these toys passing on memories and shared experiences of imagination, connecting father to daughter, mother to son as they tell the stories and adventures of each treasured cuddly bear, or in some cases, a much loved clever old fox!