Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Playground Justice for All

Though adorable, little people firmly believe the cosmos revolves around me. I’m first, while the rest of humankind stands in a Disney World line, applauding such wisdom.

As shoe sizes grow, though, so does the unwelcome conviction that other people matter.

My parents and teachers mercilessly preached that we should take turns. So, on the playground, we pondered how to settle who was “it” in tag and hide-and-go-seek. Who would go first during world championship four square and hopscotch tournaments? Who won the right to the highest monkey bars (and most likely trip to the ER)?

Teachers suddenly abdicated. “Work it out.”

Crying — which worked during early grades — now roused irritation. Scathing cries of “Baby!” ensured the weeper would never be allowed to lick someone’s red licorice whip.

So, we clobbered each other. Then discovered recesses in the principal’s office weren’t fun.

Eventually, junior diplomats introduced oral traditions whose influence has rivaled the Constitution’s. A future Secretary of State — or mother — gathered playground barbarians in a circle and chanted a rhyme. On the accent of every poetic foot, she pointed to each tennis-shoed foot:

Eeny, meeny, miney, moe,

Catch a tiger by the toe,

If he hollers, let him go,

Eeny, meeny, miney, moe.

Federalists advocated emphatic law enforcement. Those leaders bumped our fists:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four,

Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.

Jeffersonians advocated individual input:

Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish,

How many pieces do you wish?

With each rhyme, the person matched with “moe,” “more,” or “wish” would be “out” or “it,” as determined beforehand.

Rock-Paper-Scissors prevailed in later years. Participants simultaneously shaped their hands into a rock (fist), which beat scissors (two spread fingers), which beat paper (a flat extension of the hand), with paper triumphing over rock.

This tool currently rules playground games and restaurant checks, even aiding our judicial system. According to a 2006 CNN report, a Florida federal judge ordered two lawyers to settle their ongoing dispute through Rock-Paper-Scissors on Tampa’s courthouse steps.

Purists argue that Rock-Paper-Scissors is not truly random. Tournament players study which gestures are favored by opponents. During competition, they may confuse rivals by shouting, “Rock!” while giving a “scissors” gesture.

Playground rhymes didn’t always prove just, either. Smart little number nerds like my husband, often leaders in “Eeny Meeny,” “One Potato” and “Bubblegum,” exerted definite influence on outcomes.

Life wasn’t and isn’t always fair. We still should promote the best justice possible, right?

Perhaps the President and Congress should follow the Florida judge’s example. “One Potato, Two Potato” or “Rock-Paper-Scissors” might help settle governmental stalemates.

A little playground justice might even solve the current toilet paper shortage.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your favorite playground-justice tool?

Hidden Treasure

Image by guvo59 from Pixabay.

When you hear the word “treasure,” do your ears perk up like a kitty’s at the whirr of a can opener?

My ears wiggle, too — though as a child, jewels, in particular, fascinated me.

When I was a preschooler, a kind lady, aware of our family’s poverty, offered to buy my sister and me Easter clothes. She was rich, so I reveled in fantasies of princess dresses of red velvet, encrusted with precious stones.

Instead, we wore blue-and-white gingham. Not a single sapphire or diamond on them anywhere.

At sandy beaches, I buried quartz pebbles, marking their hiding places with an X. Someday, I would dig them up and sell them for millions. Then I’d wear princess dresses and eat Dilly Bars every single day.

In my heart of hearts, I knew few found for-real treasures in Indiana cornfields. Jesus told a story about a man discovering a “pearl of great price” in a field, but I never found one.

Still, I tried to hide my everyday treasures, with limited success. My younger brothers, who couldn’t find their shoes if their lives depended on it, possessed sophisticated built-in systems that detected all candy bars within 50 miles.

I also loved fruit — another commodity that disappeared quickly at our house. When my mother brought home ruby-red apples or golden oranges, I sneaked several and hid them in my bed’s headboard for secret indulgence while I read Little Women or Black Beauty.

Much later, I learned that I came from a long line of fruit pirates. My Southern grandmother treasured apples as if they were made of gold. When Dad brought her bags of apples from the Midwest, they vanished. An even better treasure detector than his sons, Dad found them under her bed. Once, while visiting my parents, I was vacuuming bedrooms when I discovered his apple stash as well.

Thus, my toddler grandson’s precocious ability to hide treasure shouldn’t have surprised us. He mostly spirited off other people’s valuables. When car keys, remotes, or backup flash drives vanished, his parents immediately identified the chief suspect. After extensive treasure hunts, they might find their billfolds nestled in 50 pounds of cat food.

Or maybe not.

They still considered that little larcenist a treasure — and Grandma certainly agrees.

I’ve never dug my fingers through piles of gleaming doubloons or gems, but the ring of precious faces around my table glow with greater worth. The only diamonds I own are small solitaires that shine on my left hand and on a silver anniversary necklace, courtesy of the shy, loving guy whose once-hidden treasures have taken a lifetime to discover and enjoy.

Makes my ears wiggle just to think about it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you consider your treasures?

Dancing with the Wind

Clutching my second grade reader, I watched cars and semis whiz past on the highway, but my school bus didn’t appear. Only my imagination kept me company.

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay.

My imagination and the wind. It swirled, breathing earthy spring smells and twittery bird songs.

What do you do when you’re seven years old with no agenda?

You dance with the wind, of course.

I skipped and leaped more like a spring calf than the ballerina twirling in my head.

The porch light went on. Mom poked her head out. “Honey, are you all right?”

What kind of question was that? “I’m dancing with the wind.”

“Oh. Okay. Just don’t get dirty.” Mom closed the door.

The wind and I resumed our dance until the bus arrived.

Eventually, I learned to keep my performances secret, though spring’s Chinook, as Laura Ingalls Wilder called it in The Long Winter, and I continued joyous rendezvous.

However, watching evil Miss Gulch of The Wizard of Oz during a cyclone gave me second thoughts about Mr. Wind.

My own stormy encounter at age 18 confirmed the wind’s erratic moods. Trees fell around my car, power lines sparked, and a nearby chimney exploded. Had the wind gotten up on the wrong side of the continent? Still, I loved its gentler caresses.

My husband never has understood my wind fetish. One sultry night during our early marriage, even the open window above our pillows didn’t cool me. I moved mine to the foot of the bed. Ah, the ecstasy of wind on my toes!

Hubby, who awoke to feet in his face, wasn’t ecstatic.

Ceiling fans help keep us together.

Lately, I’ve winced as the wind has powered trash cans and downspouts past my window. I don’t relish the prospect of spreading Weed & Feed® mostly on me — and Rhode Island.

If we camp this spring, we and our camper may follow Miss Gulch to Oz.

At home, you might find me and my laptop in the bathtub, a refuge reminiscent of the tub where I once read to three antsy little children until an all-clear siren sounded. Thankfully, our bathtubs were/are of the literary variety.

Despite grown-up reservations, the wind still holds a fascination for me. The force that spins windmills like pinwheels recalls Jesus reminding rich, powerful Nicodemus that the wind — and God’s Spirit — are way beyond our control.

Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay.

The spring wind still burgeons with life. Some dark, early morning, I’ll answer Chinook’s call. We’ll dance while no one watches, turns on a porch light, or calls the police.

Why do I want to dance with the wind? Possibly because my grandmother passed down her Native American heritage.

Her middle name was Zephyr.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever danced with the wind?

Ahhhh … Ewww! or Aaa-chooo!

Image by Peter H from Pixabay.

Say the word “lilac,” and ghosts of perfumes past waft through me. Bushes pour their lush scent through an open window into my teenaged soul. My toddlers take turns carefully sniffing purple blossoms along a neighbor’s fence. My husband plants a lilac for me on Mother’s Day.

Say the word “lilac” to my allergy-ridden friend, and she thinks “dynamite.” She once considered sneaking into her churchyard at night and blowing up bushes that every spring swelled her nose to clown size.

The beauty of a scent is definitely in the nose of the beholder. For one conscientious church custodian, ammonia spelled righteous spring cleaning that should characterize God’s house. However, my office faced a restroom door. Ammonia’s powerful fumes wiped out this choir director’s brain cells — critical because she owned so few.

Cultural factors play major roles in olfactory opinions, too. Many Frenchmen eat Époisses cheese. Southeast Asians consider the hedgehog-shaped fruit durian delicious. But because of their, er, distinctive smells, laws in both areas forbid taking these foods on public transportation.

And you thought your Uncle Archie’s garlic breath reeked.

Thankfully, many scents imprint positive impressions. Hubby’s marriage-long aftershave. Vanilla tippled into birthday cake batter. Autumn’s smoky, smoldering leaves. Plump baby necks. A new book with crisp, untouched pages. (Kindles will never replace that.) An old book with its mellow air of wisdom. (They will never replace that, either.)

A tiny tinge of flavor in warm spring air proclaims, “ice cream.” My husband says I can sniff out any ice cream within 50 miles. (Ice cream trucks, take note: add extra guards.)

Perhaps your nose, like mine, shifts perspective per experience. The smell of June roses may recall an evil prom date who handed you a corsage one night and, the next, dumped you for Bambi LaBody. Contrariwise, the return of a familiar bison ambiance to your college-age son’s bedroom fills your heart with joy.

Image by Kirsi Kataniemi from Pixabay.

Given the power of smells, shouldn’t we be grateful our Creator did not design us like dogs? Their noses are 10,000 to 100,000 times as sensitive as those of humans. I am doubly glad I am not an elephant — and not only because that nose might mess with family portraits. According to a Baltimore, Maryland, zoo, this pachyderm’s trunk can outsmell any canine nose, anytime!

In heaven, someday, perhaps mine will surpass them. My allergic-to-lilacs friend, Uncle Archie, and I, sans furry nose or undulating trunk, will together inhale the beautiful fragrance of Christ. No more “ewwws!” or “aaa-chooos!” Only “ahhhhs.” Our holy noses’ sensitivity will make those animal buddies’ olfactory talents compare to stuffy-sinus flu.

Even better, every smelly memory will be a perfect one.

Image by RitaE from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite smells?

Umbrella Magic

Image by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay.

When I was a preschooler, my mother said umbrellas kept high-wire performers from falling. Would carrying an umbrella atop a swing set morph me into a lovely lady wearing a sparkling bathing suit? Then, perhaps, the world would see the magic me.

But the umbrella didn’t turn into a parachute. I fell like a rock.

Nevertheless, umbrellas continued to enthrall me. Why wouldn’t my mother buy them?

I understand now.

First, what five kids can do to a helpless umbrella staggers the imagination. When my mother gave in and bought one, all umbrellas in the store bowed in a moment of silence. During initial roughhousing, someone raised the newcomer inside the station wagon, resulting in broken ribs.

Sometimes, a lucky umbrella survived and took refuge in the front closet, buried among mittens, hats and boots. If not so fortunate, it found itself in a fencing match with a broom, both wielded by little brothers.

Occasionally, a foolhardy umbrella permitted itself to be discovered. It faced more fencing matches at the bus stop and a school bus ride among 40 passengers intent on poking each others’ eyes out. However, after occupying a dusty corner of the lost-and-found, it eventually vanished into the Alternate Universe where half of all children’s possessions abide, never to be seen again.

As a preteen, I decided to purchase my own umbrella. Because awkward Jo March in Little Women found true love under the umbrella, I thought I might, too. But umbrellas cost three whole dollars. When a friend from Indianapolis offered to buy me one for only one dollar, I requested red with polka dots. Instead, she bought one covered with old-lady pink and yellow flowers. Mom made me smile, thank her, and pay her $1.25.

Still, it possessed a magic of its own. On rainy Saturday mornings, I ventured into our slumbering village, rendezvousing with imaginary loves who shared my umbrella and the rain’s gentle, percussive music.

When did the magic disappear? During college in Bloomington, Indiana, which boasts more rainfall than your average Amazon jungle. I often left my umbrellas in classrooms. Skipping lost-and-found, they entered the Alternate Universe, leaving me to empty my tiny bank account to buy another. I also shared elevators with 30,000 other umbrella-wielding students. My love affair with umbrellas might have ended forever — except that a special young man raised his below my dorm window to signal his approach. We have shared umbrellas for 45 years now. …

This chilly March day, as I again walk a college campus, umbrellas bloom like spring flowers, sheltering laughing, shivering students on their way to class.

Do they feel the magic, too?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like rainy walks under an umbrella?

Saga of the Sofas

I flop on our sofa after a busy day, thankful it’s comfy and fairly presentable.

Unlike its predecessor, Old Plaid.

I don’t remember Old Plaid’s original hues. After a quarter century, it could only be described as kid-colored, a motley mix of Kool-Aid tints. Rubbed with greasy popcorn, anointed with salsa, its cushions had been shaped into forts, castles and stair sleds, its creaky hideaway bed ravaged for M&M’s.

Call it a record of family history.

Call it a mosaic of life.

I called it butt-ugly. Its saggy condition reminded me of my own losing battle with gravity. I would have sawn Old Plaid in half rather than move it to our new house.

I delayed calling The Salvation Army, afraid they would turn it down. So, I made my husband call.

When their workers loaded Old Plaid into their truck, I wanted to kiss their feet.

I also wanted to throw myself into their path: “Stop! Don’t you understand a mother’s and grandmother’s heart? My babies puked on that sofa for decades!”

I had to move on. After waving a sad goodbye to Old Plaid, I forced myself to seek a new, pukeless sofa. Sensing my pain, Hubby stayed by my side. He also went sofa shopping because it involves lying down and taking naps.

We found the perfect couch. At least, I thought so.

“Red?” Hubby stared.“Red?”

I gave him credit. Although his very DNA rejected it, he went along with me. 

Unfortunately, the poufy, red sofa also was a sleep machine. Every time I sat, I would lapse into a week-long coma.

A neutral shade might work better, anyway. We examined a few hundred brown sofas. One’s fabric resembled a quilt made of old bomber jackets. I liked it. Hubby, in the last stages of terminal shopping, agreed. Our grandchildren couldn’t damage it; the sofa already looked like they had shaved it with driveway rocks. Plus, we would look cool. However, our children, who don’t appreciate our Old Hippie ways, would have us committed.

So, we made a responsible, boring decision. I turned down the red sofa. We ignored Big Bomber and bought a different brown couch.

This sofa of destiny belonged in our family. Solid and great for a long nap, but not fatal. It made friends with our carpet and drapes. We christened its teddy-bear-soft cushions with Sunday afternoon naps.

Occasionally, I recall Old Plaid. Maybe another young family’s toddler soaked it with his Sippy Cup and made it feel at home. Or some unsuspecting in-law has spent tortured nights on its hideaway, never to straighten again in this life.

I still miss Old Plaid.

But not that much.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What “Old Plaid” do you miss?

Hula Hoop Hullabaloo

I halted before an after-Christmas-sale toy display. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a rattling, green-and-purple-striped Hula Hoop®.

Shades of the 1950s. I looked down. Was I was wearing anklets and Mary Janes?

As a four-year-old, I marveled as my friend Kathy bobbed and wiggled. Her hoop never touched the ground. Though my few borrowed sessions consisted of rattle-rattle-clunks, I wished the Hula Hoop® and I could be best friends forever (BFF).

But my mother doomed my dream. She said I could not steal it. So, I begged for a birthday hoop.

She informed me: a) $1.98 was a lot of money; and b) they were impossible to find. Wham-O sold 100 million hoops in 1958, with demand outracing supply. No hoop for me.

She lied. On my birthday, I received a green Hula Hoop®! When Dad sent it rolling toward a busy street, I shrieked. Had I found my BFF, only to lose her? To my utter amazement, Hoop rolled back to him. Birthday magic was complete.

My favorite toy accompanied our family on a mission trip to Mexico. Happily, the street children also spoke Hula Hoop®. Unknown to me, my neighbor Maria bragged about my superiority. This gringa, she proclaimed, could keep the hoop going 12 hours straight.

Another pigtailed girl faced me, a gleam of challenge in her dark eyes.

My BFF turned traitor. Rattle-rattle-clunk. Rattle-rattle-clunk. I failed my country.

I didn’t leave the mission compound for awhile. Maria joined a temporary witness protection program. During retirement, though, I couldn’t remain apart from Hula Hoop®. Our glory days were past. But we would stick together, come rattle-rattle or clunk.

Before long, our family planned a return to the States. My parents insisted we did not have room in the car for Hoop and my new baby brother.

Why not leave Brother and take Hoop with us? But no one asked my opinion, so I sadly tucked my BFF behind a dresser so no one else could play with her.

Fast-forward several decades. My sister insisted on introducing me to her new exercise equipment. Sessions with it had strengthened her core, she said.

A Hula Hoop®.

These days, I cannot even find my core. As I watched her bob and wiggle, I wondered: could an old friend aid in my search?

The New Year and my surprise Hula Hoop® encounter had reawakened both core conscience and childlike longings. I brought the hoop home.

Our sessions have largely consisted of rattle-clunks. My core remains AWOL. But I harbor no qualms about exposing my flab to Hula Hoop®.

After all, what are BFFs for?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your favorite childhood toy?

Star Wars Oldie, er, Veteran

My husband and I wait in line to see The Rise of Skywalker.

Annoyingly skinny and unwrinkled, few fellow moviegoers viewed the original film. I am seized with the urge to proclaim — complete with drumroll and spotlight — “I’ve seen every Star Wars movie since 1977.”

Hubby indicates where his sock hat will go if I do.

Spoilsport.

Ignoring him, I recall that first, magical night. A medical student then, Hubby orchestrated a rare evening off. We scraped together five dollars for tickets. Annoyingly skinny and unwrinkled, we stood in a long line.

That money could have bought more groceries. This had better be worth it.

“Daaa, da, da-da-da daaa, da. …”

The music captured me. When “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. …” crawled up the screen, I followed the words into dark, velvety space.

I was there.

Breathless.

By movie’s end, this Trekkie admitted Luke Skywalker and Han Solo could compete with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Besides, Princess Leia defied an evil empire with battle savvy — keeping her clothes on, which I appreciated, even back in 1977.

Though I never would twist my long hair into weird side buns.

Hubby interrupts my reverie with ticket choices that didn’t exist 40 years ago. “3-D? Or IMAX?”

I’m cheap. Besides, running screaming from storm troopers doesn’t sound fun. 

As for IMAX — “If I collapse with a heart attack,” I say, “you can explain to the ER why four-story-high space slugs were a great idea.”

“Maybe D-BOX seats?”

Supposedly, full-motion chairs also would immerse us in the action.

“Not after that brunch,” I say.

Hubby agrees.

Finally purchasing plain old (senior) tickets, we find our theater, mostly inhabited by other moldy oldies and cheapskates.

Pre-movie blather runs on forever. This had better be worth it.   

“Daaa, da, da-da-da daaa, da. …”

Huge words crawl into dark, velvet space.

I am there.

Breathless.

New characters, plot twists, and weird, intergalactic creatures. Past characters we greet as longtime friends, old glitches, and familiar, weird intergalactic creatures.

All entangled in a horrible, wonderful battle of good versus evil. Despite radical cultural shifts the past four decades, those values remain.

I do like Princess Leia’s new hairdo.

Still, how can “young Skywalker” have aged so? And Carrie Fisher looks like a … a matron. 

Um, so do I. Unlike Yoda, we can’t live 900 years.

Despite gray hair, Hubby and I anticipate additional chapters in our own stories. Exciting chapters.

As will the annoyingly skinny and unwrinkled.

Whether young or old, and regardless of Star Wars sequels, prequels or equals, let’s all grab the nearest Wookiee and fly high into new adventures!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite Star Wars movie?

What Happened to Two Decades?

Has it really been 20 years since Y2K? Hoarding batteries, bottled water and turkey jerky, we feared computers would crash worldwide, technological brains scrambled until capable only of playing nonstop games.  

That didn’t happen, enabling millions of relieved humans to continue that role.

Others choose self-improvement, including making New Year’s resolutions.

Opponents argue that such resolutions last as long as a snowflake chomped by a kindergartner. Do resolutions accomplish even less than computer games?

Several years ago, I formulated a brilliant solution; I make only resolutions I can keep. Below, I’ve listed My Astute Pledges for 2020:

  • I vow to put away my Christmas decorations before Easter.
  • Obeying my mother’s long-ago admonitions, I promise to wear my boots outside … when there’s no snow to ruin them.
  • I will make at least one snow angel this winter. But not before Hubby rents a hydraulic lift to hoist me back on my feet.
  • I vow to amaze my neighborhood with spectacular spins and leaps on my icy way to the mailbox. Also, as I back our car out of the driveway. (I expect all 10s, folks.)
  • I resolve to wear lots of fuzzy, checkered socks. January needs all the excitement it can get.
  • I promise to go camping with my husband. I will, however, ignore all conversations that begin with, “I’ll bet Iceland is beautiful in January.”
  • I will continue to let my kitchen range outwit me. Weeks after the time change, it finally allowed me to change the hour on its digital clock. However, it adjusts the minutes to please itself, just to show who’s boss.
  • I promise to wow servers at our favorite Mexican restaurants with my Spanish. Never mind that I’ve ordered enchiladas with pineapple-lizard salsa and included a short treatise on jaywalking laws. I know they appreciate hearing their native language.
  • I pledge never to need a box for uneaten pizza.
  • Regarding chocolate: I will double my intake this year. Are you aware that, averaging nine pounds per year, Americans are 20th in world consumption? Unthinkable that the Swiss, Austrians and 17 other countries should out-chocolate us. So, I’ll do my patriotic duty.
  • When we play board games with grandchildren, I aspire to always come in last. (Unfortunately, older grandkids now refuse to be my partner.)
  • I promise to deny my adolescent grandchildren will ever, ever drive.
  • Finally, I resolve to LOL and hahaha more in person this year than on Facebook.

You, too? Then regardless of scrambled brains, computer or human, turkey jerky or patriotic chocolate, 2020 is well on its way to being a Happy New Year. Let’s go for it!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What weird resolution will you make this year?

Big Bear

When our daughter was born, I splurged on a pink teddy bear whose music box played tinkling lullabies.

I placed it in her line of vision. “Honey, she’s singing to you.”

Baby appeared more interested in shiny doorknobs.

Even as she grew, she took little notice of the prissy teddy.

Several years later, her kindergarten class planned to celebrate Teddy Bear Day, bringing their little buddies to school.

When I suggested Callie take her prissy teddy, she rolled her eyes, but hauled the bear in her backpack.

After school, an odd sight met my eyes. An enormous teddy bear ambled toward me, underscored by thin, little legs.

“Big Bear wanted to come home with me,” Callie explained.

“But — it doesn’t belong to you.”

“Teacher said we could exchange bears for a week. Sarah took mine, and she let me take him.”

Big Bear made himself at home in Callie’s appliance-box house. He starred in made-up plays and musicals. At bedtime check, I did a double take.

Twins in Callie’s bed?

I often messed up carpools. Had I lost track of how many children I’d birthed?

No, Big Bear was bunking with her. Relief poured through me, relief that soon vanished as her tiny arm curled possessively around his large, furry body.

Soon, I had to say, “Honey, Big Bear has to go home.”

Callie stared at me with sad, dark eyes, but returned him.

Christmas was coming soon. Usually, the Santa at our house frowned on extravagant gifts. But when I encountered Big Bear’s cousin at Kmart, I brought him home.

Hiding him from Callie was like concealing a body from the FBI, but the wide-eyed grin that greeted him Christmas morning made Operation Big Bear worth it. In no time, he was singing in basement Broadway productions and snuggling with Callie at night. He smiled from her bed every day.

When she married, Big Bear moved with her to her new home.

One recent weekend, Callie’s ferret-fast son and I were engaged in a pillow fight. Desperate for ammunition, I grabbed the nearest soft object.

Big Bear.

My opponent took gross advantage of my surprise and knocked me flat. Big Bear, ever the sympathizer, stayed by me.

Despite a missing eye, Big Bear had survived little-boy love and numerous pillow wars. Judging by his purple-stained face, someone must have fed him jelly doughnuts — which explained why he appeared as flabby as I. He’d lost padding, though, which I’d found. Not fair.

Still, Big Bear’s presence was strangely comforting. Did Callie — now a strong, loving woman — still sneak moments with him?

Kindergartner, teenager, mom or grandma. Sometimes, we all need a Big Bear hug.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you still cherish a childhood stuffed animal?