The Great Thanksgiving Beanie Baby Battle

To the 8-year-old me, Thanksgiving meant trips to my gramps with the rest of the family on my mom's side, disgusting carrots soaked in molasses, and of course, the "replica of the inside of the can rendered in cranberry sauce." Add to the plate the driest piece of white meat on the eastern seaboard, and you have quite a mouthful. The drab old-person decor, the stuffy book shelf, the "turntable,"the hanging plants in the living room, the television submerged in a wood cabinet resting on the floor (a game of football running as background noise on it), the brown shag carpet, the adults engaged in dull and endless chit chat... none of it would make the experience all that exciting for any kid, let alone me.

So let me start over. Thanksgiving was about running outside of gramp's house with the other kids for a nice game of tag. I always really did love me some sweet tag. About the only thing I loved more than tag was annoying girls, so how much fun do you think I had when I got to combine those two pastimes into one? Once, my brother and I stole a Beanie Baby Hedgehog from the girls, and it was a temporary victory for boys everywhere because they never got that thing back until it was time for us to go home. I had to prove my smarts. This was war. Sure, they could think they had me cornered on the porch when I "absent-mindedly" ran into that enclosure, but I knew there was nothing stopping me from hopping the railing five feet to the ground, taking off across the driveway and getting way the heck out of sight. I knew it wasn't a drop they wanted to take, and the time it took to walk the steps and come around the house kept them at a distance. I can't stress this enough, it was all for a Beanie Baby.

Whenever they caught one of us, we always made sure the other was off somewhere with the stolen good, or at least, that's what we told them. And whenever they had me in their clutches, I was sure to do what boys do best... play dumb: "I don't know where he took it, go bother him about it. I'm done playing." In reality, the thing had been tossed over the back fence at some point into the neighbor's yard where they'd never think to go looking, but they didn't need to know that. Also, as a boy, I didn't always need to 'play' dumb around girls, but that they already knew. (I never did figure out how.) Needless to say, I had my dumb excuse to get a couple girls to chase me around in circles and impress with my cunning and wits. I still don't know what their excuse was, unless they actually cared about that thing. I sure didn't.

When their head girl had me cornered at the back fence behind the shed, I scaled the wood and hopped it, right into the neighbor's lawn. That's where I grabbed the hedgehog and did a dash across the yard all the way back around and through two rows of very prickly bushes. To my surprised, they chased me. I'd throw it off to my brother in the driveway, only for him to do his signature move of hopping up on the roof of the car. The girls had him surrounded, but he booked it down the hood and cilmbed up on the porch with the thing in his teeth. Luckily I made it to the porch as he was getting torn down and he handed it off to me. I stuck the thing in my back pocket of my jeans, shook my butt at them and said the magic words sure to make any girl cringe: "come and get it nooooow."

Not wanting to have to find themselves in any position near that particular end of my body, they just stood there and crossed their arms, and I walked in the back screen door, my appetite slowly returning for whatever food thing they were starting to serve in there. And so, even as we all piled around that kids' table for the feast of horrors (in the china room), on that special day, and bowed our heads to give thanks for what we had (in our possession... stashed somewhere they'd never find it!), a silent war raged. The grimacing girls lost the battle knowing that in just a few hours they'd win the war anyways. We eventually had to give the thing back. After all, what did such a soldier like me want with a cutesy Beanie Baby hedgehog anyways?

It's not surprising the girls won. What's surprising is they actually put up a fight.

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