Many children have security blankets growing up, something they are insistent that they ‘need’ in order to fall asleep at night. The Riccolis are no exception as they too have their own individual blankets. But they also have something personal, a special stuffed animal given to each of them at birth by their parents and older sisters.
The tradition of a carefully selected stuffed plushie began with Jennie, the eldest Riccoli child. Before she was born, her parents didn’t know if they were having a girl or a boy. They went with something gender-neutral, a plush tiger to join the camaraderie of jungle animals in her themed nursery.
For Hannah, the decision to select her precious plushie was left to her big sister. Still unaware of the gender of Baby Riccoli, three-year-old Jennie chose a panda bear for practical reasons. ‘Babies can see black, white, and red when they are very little’ her parents had told her on several occasions. And it was with that in mind that Hannah’s stuffed animal became the adorable black and white bear, adored with a bright red ribbon when it was brand new.
Melanie’s bunny was selected by her two big sisters – 8-year-old Jennie and 4 ½-year-old Hannah. Hannah was having trouble adjusting to the idea of a new baby, so Jennie went through almost the entire plushie bin at the toy store, trying to entice Hannah to agree on something. Far in the back was a very fuzzy white-and-grey plush bunny rabbit, and it was so sweet and cuddly, that it changed Hannah’s mood and she chose it for her new sister.
Lily’s choice was a combination of ideas from all three of her big sisters—Jennie, 12; Hannah, 9; and Melanie, 4—the youngest of the family having been graced with a plush white kitten with bright blue eyes and some the softest fur you could find in the toy store! Adored with a pink bow, the selection fit perfectly for the child who grows up to be creative and curious. An added cuteness factor is when Lily pairs her soft kitty with matching pajamas.
The magical connection the girls have with their plushies has gotten them through many rough nights, many transitions, and they have joined them for many movies. They are more than just stuffed animals to the Riccolis. To them – like many other children, their stuffed friends are their companions, confidante, playmate, and lovey.