Everyone has that one thing from childhood that they loved that seems to still follow them around. Dragons. Pirates. Rainbows. What have you.
Mine was a yellow bear in a red shirt.
I think it helped that my mom was always into Winnie the Pooh as well. My earliest memories of sleeping in my first ever Big Girl Bed are blanketed in Pooh and Tigger comforters and sheets. We didn’t just have the original Winnie the Pooh VHS, we had Sing Along with Pooh, the mini-episode VHSes, the Halloween special, the Christmas special… this doesn’t count any of the episodes on they Disney channel that we taped. My mom had a watch that had Pooh looking up at the sky, and the sky would change from day to night depending on what time of day it was. We had Pooh drinking glasses and plastic plates with matching tiny silverware. I had a Winnie the Pooh lunchbox. It was everywhere.
Of course, there came a time when I got to be “too old” for Winnie the Pooh. It was actually sparked in third grade – yeah, at the ripe old age of 8 – when one of my friends saw me walking to lunch with my class, saw my purple lunchbox with Pooh and friends having a picnic on the front, and asked “aren’t you too old for baby stuff like that?” An eight-year-old asked her fellow eight-year-old this. I was devastated. Was I really too old for Poohbear? I spent all of lunch feeling very self-conscious about my lunchbox. I went home and told my mom what she’d said.
“You are never too old for Pooh, Senna. If someone gives you any grief about liking Winnie the Pooh, you just tell them your mommy still likes Pooh.”
I didn’t tell anyone that, but I did feel a little bit better. The seed of “you’re outgrowing baby stuff” had been planted, though. Over the next few years, I started becoming “too cool” or “too grownup” for things I used to like. Pooh included. It took a little while for my mom and grandmom to get used to, I think; I still got Pooh ornaments for Christmas for a couple years after I had condemned it to the “not grown-up enough” category. I could never quite escape Pooh. Just as I stopped getting Pooh things, my sister became very attached to Eeyore. She got Eeyore shirts and plushies and everything. I was appalled that she’d be interested in something as babyish as Pooh still. She was only a year younger than me.
I finally got over myself in high school. (I think everyone starts taking themselves less seriously some time around high school; childish things are cool again, people go to school in pajamas, and in some circles, it’s perfectly okay to admit that you still sleep with stuffed animals.) I found my mom’s copy of the complete tales of Winnie the Pooh. It was old, and the dust jacket was stiff and cracked when you opened the book, and the pages were just a hint of yellow. God, did I love that book. I must have read it dozens of times. All the tales were the same as the ones I’d seen onscreen, just enhanced; Eeyore was much more of a pessimistic downer, Rabbit was even more high-strung and sarcastic, and Pooh was even warmer and more Pooh-like.
Now that I am A Professional Adult, I try and surround myself with Pooh things. I took my old comforters to college. My boyfriend bought me an Eeyore pillow pet when we were down in Disney. My sister brought me back a mug with Pooh, Eeyore, and Piglet from her trip down to Disney. I bought my mom a Doctor Who / Winnie the Pooh crossover shirt.
I’m lucky – really lucky. Some people have to scrounge for their favorite childhood things. (See: Skydancers.) Pooh is iconic, and he doesn’t seem to get left behind by other generations. The office baby where I work has a Pooh plushie and an Eeyore plushie. (He was thrilled when I brought my mug to work.) Disney has a ride dedicated to Pooh and his adventures, and the ride lets you off in a gift shop full of Winnie the Pooh merch. The same can’t even be said for Peter Pan.
I think the reason I latched on to Pooh in my Adultness is because it’s a world with conflict, but no villain. Even in The Tigger Movie (which I still cry at,) there was no real bad guy, just emotions and misunderstanding. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bad guy as much as the next guy, (I absolutely adore the Voodo Doctor,) but a world where problems come from wind storms or honeybees or eating too much honey is so much more comfortable to me. The closest semblance of a villain we get is heffalumps and woozles, which for the longest time didn’t really exist outside the character’s imaginations. Worrying about heffalumps and woozles is a better problem than “did I pay all my bills on time” or “should I go see a doctor” or “you need to get your drivers license because you are nineteen, Senna, you can’t even drive yourself to work, why don’t you have your license yet”.
The entire world of Pooh is just more comforting than any other place I’ve heard of or seen, and my answer to “If you could live in a fictional universe, where would it be?” will always be “The Hundred Acre Woods.” There is no other place where Tiggers are spelled “T-I-double guh-er.” Or Piglets can learn to read (but bears of very little brain cannot.) Or a one-hero party can turn into a two-hero party. Or an empty honey pot and a busted balloon can make a perfect birthday present. Or a balloon and mud might be considered the perfect little black raincloud disguise.