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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Christmas Story


In the winter of 1986, life was good. I was a single mother with one adorable, healthy, blond-haired, blue-eyed boy; I had a good job; I had a not-so-good second job; I had a fixer-upper house; and I had one spoiled rotten Doxie dog. Norman Rockwell might not have been impressed with the broken-down white picket fence in the back yard, but I thought of my life as having “good bones.” A little sanding, some spackle, a new coat of paint and everything would be perfect.

Money being a bit on the short-side, Christmas was something I planned long-range. The clerks at the lay-away counters at WalMart and K-Mart knew me by name. Of course, the best-laid plans of Santa’s helpers can and do go awry from time to time. This year I was completely blind-sided by an animatronic, story-telling bear called Teddy Ruxpin. About three weeks before Christmas, my son, Derek, started talking incessantly about this Teddy Ruxpin toy, so I checked it out to see if it could be worked into The Grand Christmas Plan. I was horrified to discover this new must-have toy was a whopping $75! No way was this going to fit into the budget. Period. This was all my precious baby could talk about, and I couldn’t afford it. I was crushed.

As I cruised the toy department hoping and praying I could come up with a suitable substitute, my eyes were drawn to a tiny stuffed bear, wearing a stocking cap and a Christmas sweater. I picked him up, adjusted his little sweater and stood there looking at him and, as I did, a New Plan suddenly came to me.

On Christmas Eve, after my son set out the requisite cookies and milk for Santa and finally went to sleep, I set my New Plan in motion. It was risky, but I thought it just might work. I retrieved the tiny bear from his hiding spot, and I sat down at the kitchen table and composed a note. A note from Santa to Derek. It went something like this:

Dear Derek,

Thank you for coming to visit me in the park and giving me your Christmas list. I know you asked for a Teddy Ruxpin toy, but I have been looking all over trying to find the perfect boy to take care of this little Christmas bear. He is very special and he needs a very special boy to take care of him. You have been such a good boy this year I know you are the only boy I can trust to give him the special care he needs. I hope you love him as much as I do. Merry Christmas!

Love,
Santa

I finished setting up the rest of the toy delivery from Santa, set Special Bear on top and tucked the note under one fuzzy little leg. And, yeah, there might have been a tear or two. I crossed my fingers, looked up at the ceiling, and went to bed.

The next morning, Derek bounded into the living room, and I stood back and watched. He picked up Special Bear, saw the note, and brought it to me to read to him. I read the note, took a deep breath and looked up at him. And this is what I saw.

Like magic, it was as if all thoughts of Teddy Ruxpin were gone. He was never mentioned again.

And, yes, Special Bear still lives. Every year since, he has occupied a place of honor in our home at Christmas and a special spot in our hearts. I always smile, give him a hug and adjust his sweater when I unpack him and remember that Very Special Bear Christmas. And, every year after Christmas, he is lovingly snuggled into his bubble wrap, placed in his special box and packed away.

I always knew there would come a time when Special Bear would get passed to a grandchild and, after some discussion, it was decided the time has come for Special Bear to work his Christmas magic for my precious granddaughter. So, I gave Special Bear a booster-shot of love with one more hug, triple-bubble-wrapped him and placed him in a new box for his journey, along with two pictures I found of that special morning. Just so my son will know which box Special Bear is in, I did this. Think I overdid it?

And, when they ask me at the Post Office if I want insurance on this package, I’ll laugh, because you can’t put a price tag on what’s in that box. Christmas is not about the Teddy Ruxpins. It’s about the love and the Special Bear places in your heart.

Stuffed Bear - $4.99
Pictures & Frames - $24.95
Magical, twinkly, smiley, love-filled, makes-you-teary-eyed memories – PRICELESS

One word of advice though – take LOTS and LOTS of pictures, because you never know when a Special Bear moment will happen.

“Oh, would that Christmas lasted the whole year through, as it ought,” Charles Dickens lamented. “Would that the spirit of Christmas could live within our hearts every day of the year.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS! God bless us every one!

3 comments:

Renagade said...

Every Mom .... especially those of us who earned that special merit badge of 'single Mom' can relate to the Santa Bear Moment.
It is those special gifts that carry the memories... not the 'gotta have' ones.

Hugs, Love, and Merry Christmas

Gypsy Trading Company said...

What a beautiful story! I think we will have some special bear moments this year, and I have the camera ready and charged. Thank you for sharing.
Hugs and love~
Kat

John Ziemba said...

Great story. Lots of heart! That gift will make all of your son's memories bright. It's not the day, it's not the packaging (altho sometimes kids prefer this) it's all about heart to heart. Lovely story Brenda.