20. Love and being real
Characters: Little Bear, Buzzy Bee and Big Teddy – or whatever is available!
[This story is adapted from ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Marjery Williams.]
It was Christmas morning, and the Boy was unwrapping his presents. His best toy was undoubtedly Little Bear: his fur was so silky, he was warm and cuddly, and had such a friendly smiley face. The Boy played with him all morning. But then came lunch times, and other family members arrived and there were new toys. So that day, and for days and weeks after, Little Bear was mostly left in the toy cupboard.
Little Bear was not very happy in the cupboard. Some of the other toys were mean to hum. For instance Buzzy bee would come and torment him. “Look at my bright shiny paint,” gloated Buzzy Bee. “And I’ve got wheels – I can travel! And I make this nice clackety sound when I move along. And look at my antennae: they go Doing!!!! But look at you! You’re just a stuffed toy! You just sit there! What good are you?” And Buzzy Bee would go off to torment someone else with his stinging remarks. There were other toys with batteries and flashing lights that were unkind to Little Bear too. Little Bear felt quite miserable. Fortunately there was one toy who befriended him, Big Teddy. Big Teddy had been in the toy cupboard for ever. His fur had been rubbed off, one eye was missing, and his joints were loose – this is what happens when you get old.
One day, Little Bear and Big Teddy were sitting in the toy cupboard. “I wonder what it is like to be real?” mused Little Bear. “Does it mean you have to have flashing lights, or wheels, or antennae?”
“Oh no,” said Big Teddy. “Being real does not depend on how you are made. It is something you become. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just as a toy, but really loves you, then you become real.”
Little Bear looked at Big Teddy. “Are you real?” he asked. “Oh yes,” said Big Teddy. “The Boys father made me real. Of course that was many years ago, but once you are real you always stay real.”
Little Bear sighed. “I wish I was real,” he said.
One night, the Boy was about to go to bed, but he could not find the brown toy dog he used to take with him. Mummy went to the toy cupboard and picked up Little Bear. “Here, take your old bear,” she said. “He will do.”
So that night, and for many nights to follow, Little Bear slept in the Boy’s bed. It was not very comfortable. Sometimes the Boy held him very tight, other times the Boy rolled on him, other times he got pushed right up under the pillow where he couldn’t breathe. But the boy talked to him, and during the days they had lots of fun too: picnics in the park, wheelbarrow rides, and reading stories. Little Bear even got left out one evening and his fur became wet with dew.
That night, the Boy was going to bed and could not find Little Bear; Mummy had to go and fetch him from outside. She came in, drying off his fur. “What a lot of fuss about an old toy,” she said.
At this the Boy became quite agitated. “You mustn’t say that, Mummy!” he exclaimed. “Little Bear is not just a toy. I love him very much. He is real!”
At that, Little Bear felt very warm and happy inside. It had happened. Now he knew that the boy loved him, and he was real. The Boy had said it.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray that you will help us to love one another, and make us real. Amen.