A few days before Christmas a parcel arrived. It contained a soft-toy. That’s not unusual in any way, it was one of millions sent and received, but this one was very special to my younger daughter. It was a long-lost and long-loved tiger called Stanley, and he was coming home after being separated from his owner for a long time.
I had totally forgotten about Stanley’s existence but an email the previous week had jogged my memory. A friend from my workplace-before-last forwarded it to me. It was from someone working at the headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage and they had received a tiger and a couple of letters, one addressed to the owner of the tiger, and one asking that ‘to whom it may concern’ would endeavour to seek out the tiger’s owner. The note said that the tiger had been found during an attic clear-out and that it had belonged to a small child who had popped by with her parents while visiting a bothy they co-owned near Cuil Bay a few years ago. One of her parents worked for SNH, but that is all she knew. The correspondent wanted the tiger to be back home with its little girl for Christmas.
I responded to the email immediately knowing that it must be us, but not remembering the soft toy in question. The subsequent photo confirmed his identity and Stanley was wrapped tightly in bubble-wrap, boxed up and sent home to be reunited with a delighted seven-year-old a few days before Christmas.
It’s interesting to think how many toys my daughter has had since Stanley, each Christmas seems an orgy of consumption and acquisitiveness, but some toys are just special. And Stanley was never a shiny new Christmas tiger in a shiny box, Stanley was a hand-me-down from a friend. Thank you for sending him home.