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Baby Blanket - an Icon of Childhood
I wonder how often the importance of the baby blanket is overlooked. It is one of the most common items to purchase when preparing for a new baby. It is one of the most common items to give to new parents. When my children were born, I always had a plethora of baby blankets on hand, both purchased, and received as gifts. Someone once told me, "You can never have too many baby blankets around!" These are not necessarily the blanket that I am referring to though.
I am referring to the icon of childhood that is the baby blanket. The one that is carried around through the toddler years, and needed at every nap time and bed time to curl up with. The blanket without which our precious children can not sleep, or spend hours crying themselves to sleep. The one that is their constant companion. It is their cape, their sling, their cuddly toy. This baby blanket is their security. Immortalized by Charles M. Schulz in his well known and loved character of Linus, the baby blanket is one of the most important pieces of childhood.
My Baby Blanket
My baby blanket was everything in my memory. It was perfect, no matter how tattered or worn it became. The edging came loose, the fabric pilled, and eventually it became quite thin in places. But that pink blanket could do no wrong in my eyes. And as it became more worn, it was simply like the Velveteen Rabbit and became more real to me. I took that blanket everywhere for years. Even as I got older and entered school, the blanket did not lose it's charm for me. Every morning I would lovingly tuck it in around my stuffed animals on my bed as I left for school. After school, it would become my constant companion again.
A Plethora to Choose From
We all grow up...
We all eventually outgrow our baby blanket. Some of us have memories of our parents taking it away because it was too babyish for us. Some of us willingly laid it aside as we grew older. Some of us will forever mourn the loss of it being left behind in our travels. Other baby blankets wear out from so much love, and are retired to a special place.
My baby blanket ended its' life when silly putty melted into it's very fibers. I had fallen asleep one night curled up with my best bear, my baby blanket, and open silly putty. What best bear was doing with silly putty while I was asleep I do not know. Silly bear!
I remember the talks my mother and I had as she convinced me that the blanket really wasn't any good anymore with silly putty stuck in it. I still think she was wrong to this day, but I gave in then as it seemed important to her.
My First Child
When my first child was born, my mother gave her a baby blanket. It was handmade. It was a soft cotton rectangle of fabric that she finished the edge on. It was a beautiful, gentle peach color, and she had embroidered my daughter's initials in the corners. It served it's purpose for a good six years or more before it was retired. It had been washed so many times that the edges were frayed and the middle was wearing through and needed to be patched. That blanket was real, wouldn't you agree?!
My Second Child
My second child received a similar baby blanket in a soft green color. It was loved just as much, although this one was willingly set aside. It is still in a box somewhere around our house. It may have been set aside, but it will never be forgotten. Every so often, it comes out of the box and becomes a cape for a day, or a pillow, or a stuffed animal's baby blanket for a while.
My Third Child
By the time my third child was born, we had moved out of state, and did not get to visit my mother anymore. A store bought blanket became the constant companion of this child. It was his blanket to sleep with, and as he grew older it was his cape. It was neat to watch how it's role changed as he grew. Eventually it seemed so small to him that it became the stuffed animal's baby blanket, and the stuffed animal was never seen without it. Somehow, it was never quite the same.
Do you remember your baby blanket?
Seven Years Later..
This past year, we were able to visit my mother for the first time since my third child was born. Although it had been almost seven years, she determined that he needed a special baby blanket like his sister and brother before him. She set about finding the perfect fabric for him and making him his own baby blanket. It was a soft cotton blanket of white and blue that has a pattern reminiscent of ticking stripe. She made this baby blanket a bit larger than normal to accommodate his size as an almost seven year old. When he was presented with his very own hand made baby blanket, he was thrilled. Words can not express what that simple blanket means to him.
All in All
I think that we often forget the importance of the baby blanket in our children's lives.
But I also think that it is never too late to gift them with that special icon of childhood. Is there any age when we stop wanting to curl up with that perfect special blanket when we are sad, or on a cold night?