As far back as I can remember, Winnie the Pooh has been a huge part of my life. Every family holiday to date seems to incorporate some Winnie the Pooh story from my childhood, whether it be my older brother relating to me that he now watches the same Pooh Bear tapes with his daughter that he watched with me, singing some Pooh Bear singalong songs, or the story of our family trip to New York. That last story seems most appropriate for today.
When I was about 5 years old, my parents, siblings, and I went on a family trip to Manhattan (only about an hour-and-a-half drive from where I lived growing up outside of Philadelphia. We went to see the Rockettes, see the tree at Rockefeller Center, wander around Manhattan, and enjoy some hot dogs and some nuts for nuts (this was pre-almond allergy). As a little girl who was obsessed with Winnie the Pooh, I, of course, had to bring my Pooh Bear stuffed animal with me on the trip (and my parents obliged as it was the main toy to which I showed significant attachment).
While we were in New York, we made one of our last stops at SAKS Fifth Avenue and its toy section.. where what did mine eyes behold? A giant display of Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals, towering tall like a Pooh Bear Christmas tree! My tiny heart was absolutely delighted, and I shrieked with joy. It was like that display was made entirely for me! I spent the next half hour playing with all the different (different to me as a 5-year-old.. they were all the same toy) Pooh bears, picking them up, hugging them, putting them back down, etc. This was all well and good until it came time for us to leave and drive back home. When my parents signaled to all of us that it was time to go, I was distraught. During my play, I'd laid down my own Winnie the Pooh in the display of other, hundreds of identical Winnie the Poohs. And I was not one to be tricked.
My parents tried multiple times as a team to distract and divert so that I would think the Winnie the Pooh they had was my Winnie the Pooh. They tried this half-a-dozen times (with the help of an employee) before they realized I was not going to be fooled. The next hour of our day was dedicated to finding my actual stuffed Pooh Bear. And it really took an entire hour. Exasperated and frustrated at the time, my parents laugh at the story now. They laugh at how stubborn and determined I was to find my bear, at how silly it was for them to let me have my own Winnie the Pooh out near a display of hundreds of other identical bears, and at how my five-year-old self never stopped looking until I found my Pooh.
This story pretty much sums up a lot about me as a person, which is always an interesting discovery when you're looking back on something that happened twenty years ago. I think it's important to listen closely to stories about childhood because our inner-child is our most truthful, telling self. In this story are elements of my core - of who I am as a person still today: excitement and delight at a new discovery, wearing my heart on my sleeve when something is important to me, simple playfulness when happy, awareness when things seem off, and determination: never giving up even when my goal seemed impossible. So it might be Winnie the Pooh Day and I might be 27 years old, but I have Winnie the Pooh to thank for a lot of great things in life - not only the lessons I learned in the Hundred Acre Woods but also the lessons I learn about myself looking back on my childhood.