The memories that last

What was your most memorable toy? That's the question Ross Atkin asked dozens of adults (see story at right). It's almost impossible to read their answers and not reminisce about favorite toys that you received as a child, or that you gave to your children.

I'll never forget Pocahontas, an Indian doll that my mom and dad gave me at Christmas when I was 4 or 5. I don't know if the doll came with that name, or if I gave it to her, but my parents told me the legend of Pocahontas saving Capt. John Smith's life. It was a romantic tale to a little girl growing up in Virginia, home to the Powhatan tribe. And it was the beginning of a lifelong interest in history.

"Pokey" and I were inseparable. The next summer I dragged her along on a family vacation to Canada. I remember putting her beneath my yellow slicker so she could go beneath Niagara Falls.

Last weekend I asked our older son about his favorite toy. He mentioned severalthat had made a big impression, including a wooden marble maze that looked as though it would be much too simple and dull - but fascinated an entire neighborhood of kids for years.

Later, after thinking about it more, he said, "You know, when I think back, it's us [the family] and the [Christmas] trees I remember, not the toys, which is really funny, because, as a kid, the toys are what you think about all the time."

Too often I've said, "It's not things that matter," and then spent much time and energy on finding the right toy or baking elaborate cookies. It's good to be reminded that the words really are true.

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