As a child, I had many friends. Some were boys and girls just like me. Riding bikes up and down our street, playing hide and seek and tag in our small neighborhood. Others were what I called knick- knacks, little china animals. The knick-knacks were my special friends. Every Christmas, Santa would leave a new special friend in my Christmas stocking. Over the years, I collected a barnyard of chickens, hens and roosters, cows, dogs, and pigs: a mother and twelve piglets. I also had a forest with Bambi and his mother, frogs, birds, ducks and bears. As my collection grew, I added a shelf next to my bed to house my special friends.

Little as they were, they kept me company every day. At bed time, I took one special friend at a time and asked it to share the adventures of the day. My baby frog learned to leap from the shore into the pond. Momma frog watching and coaching. Ducks shared gliding along the pond surface catching little gnats for dinner. Bambi and his mother experienced many wonders of the forests. My Cocker Spaniel puppies giggled and laughed about rolling down the hill in our back yard. My imagination soared as I fantasized each special friend’s day. Closing my eyes and falling asleep, I thanked each one for their friendship.

Today my friends live in a shoe box on the top shelf in the guestroom closet. I occasionally take the shoebox down, open it and look at the familiar faces. Such wonderful memories of our adventures together so long ago. Then back on the shelf they go in the safety of the shoe box. The only ones left out are my Cocker Spaniel momma and her two puppies. They sit on the window sill above my computer, a reminder of childhood fantasy. I have thought of giving my adventuresome friends to our granddaughter, but can’t quite let go. When she is old enough I will. But for now, I can’t let go of friends I have known so long.

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