"On the left is my first (now un)stuffed animal I received for Christmas 29 year
"On the left is my first (now un)stuffed animal I received for Christmas 29 years ago. On the right, the new Fraffy my mom tracked down to give to my 8 month old son for his first Christmas. I can’t believe he used to have horns! Fraffy was my best friend. So much so that he spent most of his early years in my mouth, sacrificing his horns and stuffing to make sure I could sleep, nightmare-free. I had many stuffed animals when I was a kid, but none so special as Fraffy. As I got older, my other stuffed friends made their way to storage or the Goodwill, but something about Fraffy cemented a home for him on my pillow for an embarrassingly long time. For many years Fraffy was my Hobbes. We explored the world together, and as I got bigger, he got smaller, donating a little bit of his insides to each one of our adventures. When I moved to Chicago from Washington state with my mom, Jan Hollinger, and dad, Gary Hollinger, at age 12, Fraffy was my moving buddy. He sat with me, assuring me I could make it through high school in a new state. He maintained his cuddle buddy status for a few more years, hiding under the covers when friends came over.
Flash forward to 2011, the week before my wedding day. My mom was helping me pack up my things in preparation of me moving out when she sees him: Poor Fraffy, grey and tattered, with more holes than the old socks I had just thrown away. 'Ohh, Fraffy. Are you going to take him with you?' she asked. I looked at my teary eyed mother who I knew was having trouble accepting that her youngest would be leaving her nest. 'Why don’t you keep him for me?' I said. 'You can keep him safe and he can keep you safe, just like he did for me all those years.' I won’t describe the waterpark that my mom and I then created in my now mostly empty bedroom that day.
Now we move to Christmas 2016. My wife and I had announced our pregnancy a few months earlier and the soon-to-be grandmas and grandpas couldn’t have been happier. We arrived at my parents house Christmas evening to find Santa had brought more presents for our unborn son then he had for me. After unwrapping many baby socks and diapers, my mom hands me a particularly fancy package and sits down next to me, eyes sparkling. 'For the soon-to-be dad.' The ornately dressed present was the size of a shoebox, light, and gently shakeable, like a t-shirt. 'Underwear?' I guessed. I ripped the ribbon off and pulled the pinstriped paper back to find a plain cardboard box with a lid. 'Open it!' Carefully, I raised the lid and there he was: a brand new Fraffy, Vibrant and velvety, horned, hole-less and whole, stuffed full of soft cotton and life. He was the best Christmas present I ever received.
At first I thought my mom had sewn and stuffed Fraffy back together. Turns out, she had spent the months following our pregnancy announcement searching Ebay for another Fraffy. To my mother’s dismay, it turns out Fraffy had another similarity to Toy Story 2. The Playskool Snuzzles Giraffe was selling on Ebay for over $200 in any decent shape, some from “a smoking household.” She wouldn’t admit to how much she ended up actually paying, but she did admit to getting into bidding wars on 3 different auctions. And thankfully, new Fraffy is a non-smoker.
Today Link loves his Fraffy, and his grandma for getting it for him. Fraffy, Link, my wife (Alyss), and me live in the Chicago suburbs. The attached are a few of the current pictures. One is me taking a nap with both Fraffys Christmas evening. One is the original picture. The last is, as you can see, Link showing love to his new Fraffy."
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