The Soft Old Toy And the Boy Who Loves It

LUKE, my towheaded grandson, is a bright kindergartner. He has a soft, faded, much-loved flannel dog that his great-grandmother made for him when he was a baby.

When he first got the dog, it had black button eyes, but my daughter, Luke's mother, removed them for safety's sake. Luke sleeps with this dog, and even uses it as a pillow at times. It has become thinner and a little lumpy over the years, but it is loved.

Noel, Luke's younger brother, didn't have a flannel dog, and sometimes, to Luke's dismay, he would borrow Luke's. Luke wasn't happy about this and complained to his mother.

It was a happy day when Great-Grandmother came with a flannel dog for Noel. Noel was very thankful and hugged the bright-colored dog and thanked his great-grandmother with a big hug and kiss. Noel's flannel dog was firm and had black eyes embroidered on it. The colors of the flannel were bright and new.

Luke's mother wondered how Luke felt about not having eyes on his dog, so she explained that she had removed the button eyes before giving it to him when he was a baby. She asked if he wanted to get some eyes for it and put more stuffing in it. Luke didn't say anything.

One day when my daughter had come home from the store, she called Luke to show him something. She had purchased some button eyes for his flannel dog. Luke asked if she could just lay them on the dog before sewing them on, and she agreed to do that. The black button eyes were set down on the flannel dog's face.

Luke looked at the buttons lying on his soft flannel dog. He was quiet and was thinking. He looked up at his mother and said: ''He wouldn't be the same with those eyes; I love him just as he is.''

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