15 Sep 2014
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Column: Our Toy Story Jessie

Sometimes we can’t let go of certain toys.

Column: Our Toy Story Jessie

We’ve found our Jessie. You know, Jessie, from "Toy Story 2?" The cowgirl? So ours doesn’t look exactly like the real Jessie, but that’s what we named our doll (see photo) after what happened to her at our house this week. You will understand why if you keep reading.

Every so often, I go through all of the junk in our attic and set out a few bags for donations. On this particular occasion, my husband was with me helping me to sort through everything.

“Do we need this?” Holding up a pair of hand-me-down size 2 workboots.

“Nope, too small.”

And so on, and so on.

Until we got to a big plastic bin that hadn’t been opened in a while. I wasn’t even sure what was in it. And my thinking was if I don’t even know what’s in it, don’t open it and just donate the whole thing. How important can it be?

But my husband opened it. It was filled with stuffed toys of all sizes and shape of animal. 

Huge Mini Mouse, no idea where we got it?


Small pink walrus given to one of my kids by my Dad?

Save. (My sentimental side got the best of me.)

Then, my husband pulled out the doll-soon-to-be-named-Jessie. She was written on with marker and a complete mess.

I took one look and said, “I don’t think we can donate that one. Just throw it out.”

My husband put her in the trash pile.

We finished up our sorting and brought all of the bags down from the attic. 

Here comes the Jessie moment: My husband took the trash out and came back in a moment later holding the doll. 

“I couldn’t throw her away.”

“What? Why?”

“I tossed her in the garbage can and she was looking up at me. All I could think of was ‘Jessie’ from Toy Story 2. I couldn’t throw her in the garbage.  She’s been up in storage for years and finally got out.”

I looked at him and said, “You just wrote my column for next week.”

We moved Jessie from the garbage to the donate pile, but I was still skeptical that she would do well at the thrift store since she was written all over. But I didn’t have time to do much else at that point.

Later when my middle daughter saw the doll in the donate pile, she said, “I didn’t even know we had that doll. Why are you donating her?”

We told her the story of how Daddy saved her from the garbage.

“We should name her Jessie, like from Toy Story 2,” said Daddy.

My daughter was hooked. “Yes, Jessie! I think that if we put her in the washing machine, all of the ink will come off.” 

But time was of the essence. The donation truck was on its way. The doll was dirty. I had to make a choice. How often is it that we make a donate pile only to have our child unable to let go of a particular toy? And this was one she didn’t even know we had.

“I won’t be able to wash her in time.”

But as you can imagine the pull of the Jessie Toy Story 2 song was in my head. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the toys come to life when there are no humans around. And there is a point when Jessie’s owner gives her up and she is heartbroken because gets donated.

When somebody loved me
everything was beautiful
every hour we spent together
lives within my heart…

“I will keep her and take care of her, Mommy. I promise.”

I couldn’t say no. We pulled Jessie out of the donate pile and threw her in the wash. The rest of the donations got picked up while Jessie was in the dryer.  She came out sparkling clean and, my daughter insists, with a bigger smile.

Our Jessie went from years is storage to a whirlwind trip from the garbage to the donate pile to the washing machine to snuggling in bed with my daughter. Thanks to my husband, our Jessie, just like the real Jessie who can’t do storage again, is one lucky doll.

About this column: Kathy Yevchak is a mother of three and the author of two children's books. She also works part-time in corporate writing and training. 

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