Embracing your comfort blanket

As a child, I never wanted or needed a comfort blanket or stuffed animal to keep me safe from any perceived harm. Not judging: At least one of my siblings needed the warm touch of an outside object to migrate through infancy to childhood. I also know there are hundreds of children who benefit from comfy blankets or stuffed animals to ease tough transitions.

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Linus van Pelt of Peanuts

Yet, in my adulthood, I acquired items that morphed into my comfort blankets. In 1982, received two crocheted and knitted blankets that marked the birth of my oldest son. A friend carefully crafted the yellow and white blanket for my newborn; the multi-colored blanket was designed for my covering during naps from taking care of my baby son.

As life progressed, I would increasingly seek out the yellow blanket and used it to cover each of my three children and my grandchildren during their nap times. While covering the young ones with the blanket, I transferred my prayers for them from me. It gave me comfort and I believe my utterings and the heavier than normal blanket was like a big hug to the napper.

Today, the yellow blanket is my visual reminder of the beautiful passage of time. I keep it in my home office as inspiration for my writing projects and an occasional warm wrap on my shoulders.

The larger, orange, brown and yellow blanket was made for me by my grandmother, “Mama Helen” Douthy. My family, household guests and I have snuggled under the multi-colored blanket.  The blanket seems to have a secret power to immediately place the user into a snug sleep. When Mama Helen died in November 2008, I placed her blanket over my comforter for at least a year to help with my grief for a lady who taught me many things in life, including how to knit and crochet.

Whatever object one finds comfort in —  pacifiers as babies and a single memory item for one nearing the end of life, it brings the user some reconciliation with uneasy points of life. It was Researcher D.W. Winnicott who coined the phrase “transitional object” (1951) to what I call comfort items. I remember that on a police ride-along in DeKalb County,Georgia a decade ago, my “partner” sergeant had a few teddy bears in his vehicle in case we encountered domestic situations that involved children whose trauma could be eased with the hug of a warm, stuffed animal.

I am proud of my comfort blankets. They are symbols like those used during spiritual ceremonies and even by professional athletes.  I worked with the host committee for the 1995 Olympic Games and became familiar with several comfort or good luck items and rituals prior to events. For instance, the 2016  Olympic Games in Rio included three-time parathelete, Army 1Lt., Purple Star and Bronze Medalist Melissa Stockwell always places a small picture of her son and husband on her bike and eats special candy the night before a race.

Author Brian Mayne, “Self Mapping: How to Awaken to your True Self,” suggests that adults should embrace their transitional objects … What’s your comfort blanket?”