The first one, Hoppy, was originally Mom's grandma's: she bought her to be a spring decoration in the house. Every time Mom went to visit, she asked to play with the beautiful white and blue bunny. Eventually, her grandma gave her Hoppy to keep. Hoppy went with Mom on every vacation and sleepover from then on. On one fateful camping trip, Hoppy accidentally fell in the dirt. Mom's mom tried washing her in the washing machine once they got home. Her once-prisitine, fluffy fur was never the same after all of that, but Mom continued to love her as much as ever. Hoppy is quite well travelled - she's been to many states and to Canada, often traveling crammed into a carryon to serve as both companion and pillow. She has a yarn necklace strung with an orange bead, each a token from two of Mom's best childhood friends. She wears an old one-sy that both of her little sisters once wore when they were babies. So, she connects Mom not only to her grandma, but also to best friends and sisters.
Next to come along was Shaggy. Mom remembers admiring him in a toy aisle at a grocery store - she and her mom visited him on multiple occasions. On her birthday, as always, Mom saved her biggest birthday present, one from her mom, to open last. Inside was Shaggy! Mom was thrilled. Big, smiling, and covered in shaggy brown fur, he was to Mom the epitome of a teddy bear. Because of his size, Shaggy didn't get to travel as often as Hoppy or Norbert. (I'll get to him in a moment.) Mom vividly recalls, while packing for a vacation to Florida, squishing him into her suitcase along with everything else to try to convince her dad there was room for him. It didn't fly. Or rather, Shaggy didn't get to fly. Mom sent him a postcard from Florida. XD
Third to arrive was Norbert. The library at the church Mom and her family went to had a few "book bags" that could be checked out. These book bags contained both a children's book and a stuffed animal that went with it. Mom's favorite was the one with Norbert the elephant... in fact, she can't even remember the others anymore. The book's title, appropriately, was:
The Norbert illustrated in the book doesn't look anything at all like the elephant stuffed animal they paired the book with:
Mom fell in love with everything about the stuffed Norbert, though, from his floppy patchwork body to his goofy eyelashes to his clump of pink yarn hair. She remembers dreading returning him, begging her mom to hurry after the church service to see if they could check him out again, and being really sad when some other kid checked him out. Mom's mom worked her magic again. She came up with the idea to buy another stuffed elephant for the book bag - one that actually looked something like the book illustrations - and then ask the church library if we could swap them so that Mom could have the original Norbert. It worked! Norbert came home with Mom for good, and Norbert II took his place in the book bag. (Later on, Mom's sister took a shine to Norbert II, necessitating a Norbert III to take his place, but that's another story...)
I guess all this goes to show that Mom was the sort of little kid who tended to like what she couldn't have best? (Maybe that's part of why she has always loved horses so much, because she knew she'd probably never get to have a real one?) XD She's lucky she had such a generous grandma and mom!
These days, Hoppy, Shaggy, and Norbert still reside on Mom's bed, though they don't sleep under the covers anymore. They don't travel anymore either, unless you count being carried to the basement during tornado warnings. I think they are enjoying their semi-retirement - it may be less exciting, but it's definitely less taxing on the fur (in Hoppy's and Shaggy's cases) and stuffing. They've been joined permanently by two stuffed animals that Mom inherited when her grandparents passed away: Donald, a puppet Mom used to think was alive when her grandpa got him out, and FiFi, a poodle Mom gave her grandma (the same grandma who gave her Hoppy).
Other stuffed animals join the party from time to time, as do my sisters and I when it's our birthdays, but Hoppy, Shaggy, and Norbert still get the places of honor closest to Mom. <3
A big part of why I decided to write this post now is because my sisters and I googled Norbert's brand name, "Floppalots," this past week. We found out that he's older than any of us realized - apparently he was made in the late 80's! No wonder his stuffing is so compressed! I wonder what the owner(s) he had before the library and Mom was/were like?
We also discovered from the image search that Norbert has Floppalots "cousins!"