We had a crisis in our home the other day. No one could find Baby Blankie.
To be clear, we did not lose a baby. We lost a blanket one daughter has had since she was born 10 years ago.
It makes her feel better. She’s slept without it a few times since she was born, but it’s rare and an unsettled night’s sleep for her. This, for whatever, brings great comfort to her.
Different children in our home have things that bring that kind of comfort. Perhaps it’s an old T-shirt kept in the closet, a ripped-up stuffed elephant or a Moana plush doll. Whatever it is, it comforts these people, young and old alike, just to know that item with treasured memories is there.
I have no such blankets, dolls or shirts in our home. I might be what you’d call an unsentimental schlub.
I don’t have belongings that transport me back to a different time and place, getting comfort from their mere existence.
Once upon a time, I did. I used to have plush toys of Ernie and Bert. It started with Ernie, the Sesame Street character, who tagged along so many adventures that my mom had to sew his arms back together multiple times. The original pattern of his shirt was long overwritten by the rough play of a boy and his doll. If you’ve ever seen “Toy Story,” I can relate to Andy.
As is the case with childish things, though, I put them aside when I got older. For a while I just kept them in my room, like Andy in “Toy Story.” Before long, I realized I didn’t need them at all, and I passed Ernie and Bert on to my niece, a budding Sesame Street fan herself, when I was in my teens.
I’ve lost track of them since then, and so, too, I suspect has my niece, who has a daughter of her own now. I wouldn’t bother asking her what ever happened to that dynamic duo, as it’s easily been 25 years since I passed them on to another generation.
I’ve stated in this column nearly annually over the past decade that Thanksgiving is my second-favorite holiday (behind Easter). It trumps Christmas because it’s a day to reflect and appreciate what you have, as opposed to the consumeristic buy-fest that December somehow became.
I can take a deep breath and appreciate my family, even the members of the extended clan who I might not appreciate so much, especially after we cram all 40-plus of us into my brother’s living room.
Those memories are my equivalent of Baby Blankie. They’re so much more than an old T-shirt, stuffed elephant or Moana plush doll. They’re integral to who I was, who I am and who I hope to be some day.
My memories become my comfort as I marvel at how my own children grow bigger and wiser every day. I can’t believe how independent they’ve all become.
I also sort of enjoy when those creature comforts come up missing. I found Baby Blankie in the basement, where it helped keep my daughter warm while she played a game. I returned to a hero’s welcome when I brought that blanket back up to my daughter at the end of the day. She called me the “best dad ever.”
There’s one more memory right there. With a treasure chest full of those, this unsentimental schlub won’t ever need to look to his belongings for comfort and joy.