We have enough Teddy Bears thank-you. That message came across the wire service from Connecticut, thanking people for sending in tributes and tangible hugs for their lost school children. Translation: You can never have enough love and compassion, but sometimes you really do have enough stuff – just ask a turkey.
People are a strange breed – just ask a doll or toy collector. Taking our emotional needs to heart we often transfer them into inanimate objects such as teddy bears and dolls, safely giving them to others hoping they hold them, look at them and in general love them, thinking of us in the process. Problem is if we do it too much or too well, we forget how to be thankful for what we have in life, to cherish and appreciate the real thing. Thanksgiving happens once a year and we feast until we are stuffed. Then sadly life becomes a normal plate of leftovers, which we are no longer as thankful to have and we again sandwich our needs around those who really need us.
Stuffing our lives and needs into a 24 hour day looks easy enough on the surface, but when we actually sit down in the morning and start the process of our day, it never fills up the way we hope it will and people fall through the cracks. When I was a young single mother I traveled a lot and always brought home gifts, souvenir t-shirts and postcards. After one particular trip to Alaska, my youngest accepted her gifts saying, “I gots a nuff shirts mom” It was then I realized I was stuffing them into my life with things and not me. I was in a new position by the end of the year.
Don’t get me wrong, giving something special in lieu of physically being there is sometimes the best way to connect with those we love, either due to location or maybe just to reaffirm a sentimental memory or shared experience. However, many times I have also seen parents and children do things for others, hearing the remark you never do that with/for me. Indeed, sometimes we take for granted those that are already stuffed into our lives, even if they aren’t everything they may seam to be, not wanting to pull the loose threads for fear everything will unravel. Whether it is easy or not, we need to step up and prove we have the right stuff when it comes to others.
It would be interesting to see the demographics behind the countless teddy bears, angels and tributes sent to deceased victims of random and senseless acts of terror and violence, compared to the lives of the dark entities who perpetrated them. I wonder how much stuff was really in their lives? Was it stuff reaffirming who they were, giving them confidence and a sense of well being? Or were they stuffed under the rug in life where families and friends were too busy to care, unable to love or worst of all unwilling to notice and take responsibility.
The children that leave us too soon usually have more bears and toys than any makeshift memorial could provide. Most of them also have people in their lives that have taken time, made time and been there most of the time sharing and loving all the good stuff that comes from inside family and friendship. The tributes are nice, but you wonder how much further that compassion could have gone redirected to broken souls before any tragedy had a chance to happen – something most of us can’t bear to think about.
A certain velvet rabbit with his stuffing loose and falling out learned being real was the ultimate gift in life. It is also a lesson most of us need to revisit daily between computers and calls, travel and time. We need to make it real and stuff our unnecessary ego stroking selfishness into the 8 hour slot it deserves, and look to those we love who matter, who have something special to offer life. We need to see them as the tribute we have been given for making it this far.
I was blessed with parents who never gave me a moment of concern that I wasn’t important – along with some great stuff I might add too. When they passed away of old age, I cried and my nose got stuffed up and my heart hurt, but I also realized the love was still there, we’d said it all, laughed it all and cared through so much I was complete – just missing their physical presence. Indeed they put the real in my reality and I have always tried to do the same with those in my life – because it does matter.
Tomorrow make it real for yourself and those around you and also those who don’t have it in their lives. Stuff some love into places that might have cracks and keep the warm inside and make a difference for the living. Who knows, the New Year might just end up having one less tragedy because of it, one less hurting soul who smiled because they felt they mattered, and maybe there will also be one less teddy bear that will never be hugged.