Nick Hollinger has held onto his stuffed animal for 29 years — and now his son can do the same.
The elementary school teacher recently shared a photo on Reddit of his beloved stuffed giraffe, Fraffy, alongside a brand-new version. As he shared in the caption, his mother, Jan Hollinger, went to great lengths to find Nick’s son, Link, an exact replica of his striped plush toy: “On the left is my first (now un)stuffed animal I️ received for Christmas 29 years ago. On the right, the new Fraffy my mom tracked down to give to my 8-month-old son for his first Christmas. I️ can’t believe he used to have horns!”
The Chicago father tells Yahoo Lifestyle about why Link’s grandmother’s gesture was so special for the family. “He was my best friend. So much so that he spent most of his early years in my mouth, sacrificing his horns and stuffing to make sure I could sleep nightmare-free,” Nick shares.
He continues, “I had many stuffed animals when I was a kid, but none so special as Fraffy. As I got older, my other stuffed friends made their way to storage or the Goodwill, but something about Fraffy cemented a home for him on my pillow for an embarrassingly long time.”
When Nick was 12 and his parents moved from Washington to Chicago, Fraffy was there to help him adjust to the big move. Fraffy was also there with him throughout his teenage years (however he was hiding under the covers whenever Nick had friends over).
After a few years, Fraffy then got stashed in a drawer until Nick’s wedding was approaching in 2011 and he was moving out of his childhood home. Jan was helping her son pack and she stumbled upon sweet and now very old Fraffy.
“I looked at my teary-eyed mother who I knew was having trouble accepting that her youngest would be leaving her nest. ‘Why don’t you keep him?’ [she said]. ‘You can keep him safe and he can keep you safe, just like he did for me,’” Nick recalls.
So that’s what Nick did. He took Fraffy to live with him and his bride, Alyss.
Then last December, Jan surprised Nick with a very special gift for Link during Christmas, even though wasn’t born yet.
“We arrived at my parents’ house Christmas evening to find Santa had brought more presents for our unborn son then he had for me,” Nick says. She handed Nick an ornately dressed present the size of a shoebox, light, and gently shakeable.
“I ripped the ribbon off and pulled the pinstriped paper back,” he says. “There he was: a brand new Fraffy, vibrant and velvety, horned, hole-less and whole, stuffed full of soft cotton and life. He was the best Christmas present I ever received.”
At first, Nick thought his mom had sewn and stuffed Fraffy back together. But as it turns out, she had spent the months following Nick and Alyss’s pregnancy announcement searching eBay for another Fraffy.
The Playskool Snuzzles Giraffe was selling on eBay for more than $200 in any decent shape.
“She wouldn’t admit to how much she ended up actually paying, but she did admit to getting into bidding wars on three different auctions,” Nick says. “Today Link loves his Fraffy, and his grandma for getting it for him.”
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