Friday, December 16, 2011

Awesome Toys of Christmas Past! Cookie Monster Edition!

Today's Awesome Toy of Christmas Past was not only one of my best friends ever, but is also the very first Christmas present that I remember receiving. Sure, we had Christmases when I was one and two years-old (and technically one when I was a week old), but I don't really remember any Christmases until I hit three. That was the year that the whole concept hit home with me. It was the first year that I heard of and met Santa Claus (he literally came knocking on my door), and the very first year that I remember coming down the stairs from my bedroom, with my parents and brother all excited and seeing that tree all lit up in the chilly December morning, practically lifted off the ground from the spilling mountain of presents underneath it.

And out of all of these presents (and there were so many great ones that first year), the one that my eyes immediately locked onto was the fuzzy, blue hug-machine that I had seen shovel countless cookies into his maw everyday on Sesame Street ever since I could remember. That's right, kids, that Christmas in 1975, I got my very own Cookie Monster.

I received this Cookie Monster as a gift from my grandparents on my Mom's side. To be honest, this would be the kick-off to many Christmases of being spoiled by them. C.M. sat upon a rockin' mini motorcycle-styled kiddie-trike (that I completely ignored at first) with a folded note in his mouth that said, "Feed me a cookie!" and being the well-behaved child that I was with a penchant for following orders (yeah, right), I immediately crammed a snowman shaped sugar cookie into his mouth, sending crumbs everywhere and laughing like a fool over the whole thing.

Cookie Monster would instantly become my closest cohort. My Partner in crime. My adventuring sidekick. For the next several years, Cook would go on camp-outs, sleepovers and vacations with me. When I would first learn to sound out words, I would read him books at night, and point out my favorite panels from Sunday comics pages. I would hold pens in his hand and make him draw. I would body slam him in epic wrestling moves. But mostly we would just sleep, Cookie Monster by my side, thinking back on the day's events as we wound down, only to wake the next day, ready to take on any new adventure that came our way.

The original Cookie Monster was lost (as all my toys were), so through almost two years of searching and more than a couple of lost auctions, I finally scored a new one. Now, I don't mean that this is a new Cookie Monster made by a new company. I mean that this is an original 1974 Knickerbocker Cookie Monster plush, that had never been played with and arrived with his tags still attached!

When the box arrived, I did my best to study him with a grown-up collector's eye, checking his condition, noting the aesthetics of his vintage construction. But that lasted all of about a minute before the three-year-old inside of me burst out in a heart-breaking rush of oh-god-I've-missed-you-so-much and all of my pretensions as a serious toy collector fell away and all I could do was smile, rattle his eyes (they really rattle!), try not to cry, and then hug him just like I did all those years ago on the very first Christmas that I remember.

Now, bring on our next adventure!