Saturday, 24 September 2011

The way to Armadillos

This post was inspired by Mimi's post on her 100 plastic dolls (and Mimi. My gran owned the Tricky Dogs and I was always so covetous of them; in my heart I knew I'd learnt the word covet the first time I saw them touch tiny metallic doggy noses on her dressing table... *sigh*)

Back in the early '70s a song came out that was played on the radios all the time. I loved it, because it was all about an animal that always reminds me of Christmas... armadillos. :-)

There I'd be, sitting in the car or playing on the carpet, singing along with the song on the radio:

"Is this the way to Armadillos?
Every night I'm hugging my pillow
Dreaming dreams of Armadillos..."

..and Christmassy excitement would fill my heart! :-D

You can see, from watching that video, that I was dreadful at hearing lyrics properly. I still am actually, I'll have to tell you about 'Millie Gnu' some day, but today is about those armadillos.

In Rhodesia in the '70s we had 'sanctions', which meant very little to a child's brain, except the fact we didn't get the same stuff I saw in magazines from other countries. We didn't have chocolate bars and other fancy goods, but I can't remember ever being really bothered about that. I think it bothered the grown-ups more. I know the armadillo Christmas bothered them.

It was Christmas and Rhodesia was making its own Christmas decorations, chocolates, etc. The chocolates were awful, to be honest, and the Christmas crackers were... unusual. One year most of the crackers had itchy powder in them. Not good!

Then one year they all had tiny plastic armadillos in them. I can remember the grown-ups leaving theirs on the table as "junk" and even my boy cousins left theirs in disgust. There before me lay an entire table of tiny armadillos. My gran said, "You can have them if you like" and that's how I came to own a whole two cracker deep armada of armadillos.

Thinking back on cracker boxes and number of family gathered to eat dinner... it must have been close to twenty armadillos. I just loved them. They were a soft lemony colour, with rather vague features sprayed on in a golden tan paint. Taken one by one they were a rather boring toy, but a whole group of them was quite different.

I played armadillo armies and armadillo marching bands. I had armadillo barn dances and, my most favourite - armadillo school! For armadillo school I'd bring in the help of a little plastic owl who looked like Owl in Pooh Bear. He'd be the teacher and all the armadillos would be very good and quiet behind their rows of invisible desks.

I had such fun with those armadillos. They were one of my best Christmas gifts, even though they were such a disappointment to everyone else. Shows how perspective is everything, perhaps? How one family's memory of cheap plastic junk is another child's treasured Christmas memory. I need to remember that. When life sends me lemons - Show me the way to armadillos! ;-)

If you have a story about mangled song lyrics that mean something to you,
or a childhood toy of unexpected joy... consider yourself tagged!



  1. Lovely! Such and important lesson, and one most of us seem to need to learn over and over again.

    It isn't the money that infuses an object with joy, but the imagination.

    Having said that, it's what money represents, isn't it? In our imagination it represents comfort, indulgence, luxury, love - all kinds of things! And yet - in the end - it really doesn't offer any of those things. It can- but mostly it doesn't. And our imagination fills in the blanks.

  2. Hayden

    money without imagination - perfectly said!

  3. What a fun story, Michelle. Isn't it funny how something can trigger such memories for us. I can just picture you playing with all those armadillos! :D

  4. Daisy
    Yes. ;-) I can never hear that song without smiling to myself.

  5. Oh man, Michelle, I enjoyed this armadillo story. I'm imagining a little girl with her armadillo school with Owl, the teacher. I see a children's book here.

    Children know how to find play in anything...the cardboard box is the perfect example.

    I remember one song...I must write about it...

  6. I really enjoyed that Michelle, it is funny how we can love something so insignificant, how such simple pleasures can warm our hearts.

  7. G~G

    :-) you always make me smile.

    Bring me the link if you write your own crazy song story, please!

    Hi Gemel
    I think childhood is the best time for understanding what really matters - the true value of "stuff". :-)

  8. One person's trash is another person's treasure he he...I've always loved reading your stories. :-D THANKS for the tag. Let me see what I can remember. :-D

  9. I love this story. Who would have thought to put plastic armadillos in food? And thanks for the background on the area you grew up in. It is a fascinating part of you.

    I can just see you playing with them now! Armadillo school must have been quite a "hoot"..bwaahahaaaaaa

  10. Excellent story, Michelle! Thank you.

  11. Amel

    Write a story! ;-D

    Hi Mimi
    No, the armadillos were in Christmas crackers... umm... the kind made of paper that go BANG? Not crunchy biscuits. BUT... gran always put money in the pudding (bloied clean!) for luck. I hated that, because you had to chew it carefully or you could chip a tooth!

    Hi Nick
    Glad you enjoyed it. Now... have you got a mangled song lyric story? :-) hmmm???



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