Every day I stumble down to breakfast blearied-eyed, make my breakfast, and plunk myself down at the dining room table to eat. And then I smile. How could I NOT smile with such an impish little smile grinning back at me from the corner cabinet?
My grandmother ADORED her little Kewpie doll and I adore her, too. No, she's not in pristine condition--she's crazed and cracked. But, boy, is she loved! I'm told that she was a treasure bought at a fair for my grandmother, a little girl who had very few toys. Grandma loved her doll and for several years even kept her Kewpie in the box while she played with it. She felt like such a lucky girl.
And I have always felt like such a lucky girl to have my Grandma give her to me. It was always like a treasure hunt searching through the boxes in my Grandma and Grandpa's attic. Oh, how fun it was to see what might be hiding under the eaves. So many old toys and books. It was a magical fantasyland to me. When I think back, there really may have only been a few boxes with the toys that I coveted and many, many more boxes of other things. But, to me, the attic was literally FILLED with treasures.
Most of the toys were my Dad's and my Aunt's. The Kewpie doll was the only remaining toy that I remember Grandma having and I don't remember Grandpa having any toys from his childhood at all. Both Grandma and Grandpa grew up in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan during the time of lumberjacks and their camps. In fact, Grandpa grew up in a lumberjack camp in the boarding house that his mother ran. Because they didn't have many toys growing up, my grandparents made sure that their children had no lack of toys at all. They knew how important play is to a growing mind.
Maybe that is one reason I am drawn like a magnet to toys--in particular, old toys. And it's probably one of the reasons behind my passion for making teddy bears. In fact, Grandma's sweet little Kewpie doll is currently the inspiration behind a new bear I'm creating using a lot of felting techniques for the facial features. I don't know how my bear is going to turn out. I'm not sure I can capture that ellusive impish glint that lights up Kewpie's face. But, I'm going to try. And, if is doesn't work this time, maybe it's worth trying again and again--chasing a memory in the look of an eye of a bear.