The first surprise came as we entered the banquet room and looked for a table. My eyes went to a table toward the back of the room. I was wearing my contacts so things were a little fuzzy around the edges but there was something oddly familiar about one particular person seated. I cocked my head to the side and walked closer. OH MY GOSH!!! It was my daughter, Brittany!! And my son, Justin!! And my son-in-law, Jeremy!! As a grand surprise, Bill had flown our kids in for the weekend too!! It was a good thing I was wearing waterproof mascara!! As it turns out these wouldn't be the last happy tears to fall.
We had a lovely dinner, eating and chatting. It was a very good meal by the way. No rubber chicken here!! As soon as the meal was finished the awards were underway. The DOTY's were presented first, with the TOBY's following. This was a first class presentation, let me tell you. All the nominated pieces were presented on a large screen then the screen would cut to "And the winner is....." and then the winning piece was shown exclusively. I truly wish every nominee could have been there to experience it. Truly, FIRST CLASS!!
I was busy cheering on all the nominees. So many of them I know from the Teddy Talk chat forum I belong to. Each category was presented and a winner announced. Then came my category: Large Artist Bear - Dressed/Costumed. Nominees presented. And the winner is...... And there was a picture of Princess Mirabell and Sophie. What? WHAT? I got up and walked up onto the stage. Mindy Kinsey, the Editor of Teddy Bear and Friends magazine asked if I wanted to say a little something. Me, say something? Intelligent? I think I may have whispered something like, "Oh no, I couldn't possibly." Public speaking? Me? Just get me off this stage!!
Most of the rest of the announced winners were a bit of a blur until the end when the announcement for Best of Show was presented. And the winner is........ Oh my gosh!! There was that picture of Princess Mirabell and Sophie again!!! What? WHAT? My bears? Really? At this point I am really trying to keep my composure. It wasn't working really well. Tears were welling up as I made my way to the stage. There was Mindy again. "This time you have to say something." she said. Here I was, trying to keep from bursting into tears, and I have to say something? Oh goodness. I was so NOT expecting all of this. I had nothing prepared!!! Deep breath. Deep breath. Don't make a fool of yourself and remember to thank everyone. Deep breath....."I'd first like to thank...." Somehow I made it through and made my way off the stage before the tears streamed down my cheeks. A once in a lifetime experience...indeed.
Thank you Teddy Bear and Friends magazine, to all who voted, and to my husband Bill. I am so blessed. It was an incredible evening! One I will never forget.
Warmest bear hugs, Aleta
P.S. A very special thank you to Christine Crocker of Deerfield Farmhouse for creating Sophie for me. Sophie was a collaboration and the inspiration for Princess Mirabell's design and late 1800's costume and accessories.