Come on Darling, theres something I want to show you, said a man gently. The man was in his thirties, his red-brown hair neatly trimmed and dark eyes practically glowing with warmth as he looked towards his daughter.
The girl could not have been more than six years old, her auburn hair pulled into pigtails with cheerful yellow ribbons tied into bows. She wore a matching dress that came just below her knees. It had a white ruffle on the bottom as well as the neck and each sleeve with the imprint of sunflowers sewn all through the yellow fabric. She skipped merrily to her father, letting him lift her up to be set on her bed beside him.
What is it? She asked eagerly, her eyes bright with curiosity.
Some very dear friends of mine, the father replied with an amused chuckle. Yes
Very dear indeed. He added much softer.
Who are they? The girl asked, practically quivering with anticipation.
Let me show you, He said quietly. Standing, he moved to a shelf in his daughters room, taking down a very worn, very battered stuffed bear. Sitting once more beside his daughter he pretended not to notice her disappointment.
A teddy bear? She asked hesitantly, not wanting to hurt her fathers feelings. Daddy I have a lot of stuffed toys.
No, not a teddy bear dear, The man replied, A pooh bear.
A pooh bear? She echoed suspiciously.
A pooh bear, He repeated firmly. This is my dear childhood friend Winnie the Pooh.
The girl studied the bear skeptically. It looked as though it had been dragged through countless trees and down innumerable paths. Like it had been washed until the color faded along with all the dirt and all that remained was the few stitches that still held it together. All the same, as she looked at its face closely; she couldnt help thinking that in some odd way, it was smiling at them.
Hes just a stuffed animal daddy, She said at last, hoping he wouldnt be too disappointed.
The father shook his head patiently, holding the Pooh bear in his lap in the gentlest of manners. Pooh bear and his friends are just as real as you and me, all it takes is imagination.
The small girl smiled a little, Daddy its still just a stuffed animal. She persisted.
Let me tell you about him, Her father said softly. Close your eyes and listen to my story. Im going to tell you about one of my adventures with Winnie the Pooh.
The small girl did as she was told, shutting her eyes tightly.
Deep in the hundred acre woods lived a very special bear with golden yellow fur and a large appetite for honey, The father began in a calm tone.
Is it a wood near here? His daughter interrupted.
Just listen darling, He persisted patiently.
There in the hundred acre woods also lived friends of the yellow Pooh Bear. There was Piglet, a dear friend though not the bravest at times
And rabbit, who was always so worried about his garden. Tigger was there, though a later arrival, with all his bouncing and jumping
He was the only one of his type you know.
The father went on, explaining every member of the hundred acre woods in the same story tale voice as his daughter listened intently. It seemed she had forgotten to be skeptical, now caught up in the tale of a silly pooh bear. She listened with the utmost attention as her father told of Poohs many attempts at getting honey, both those that succeeded and failed. He told her of his favorite adventures with Winnie the Pooh and his other friends. He had just reached the end of his tale, delivering the closing line when a woman came into the room, pausing just in the doorway.
Dinners ready, The woman told them both, eyeing the two suspiciously. She noticed the stuffed bear in her husbands lap, shaking her head in exasperation.
Christopher Robin! You arent filling little Winnies head with that stuffed animal nonsense, are you? She chided sternly.
Of course not dear, I was only showing her my old stuffed animal. Christopher replied guiltily.
I dont know why you keep that thing around Christopher, The woman replied, still just as exasperated.
Its special, He replied with a shrug.
Its not just a stuffed bear Mommy, he was daddys friend! He went on all sorts of adventures! He got chased by a swarm of bees and he did all sorts of exciting things in the Hundred Acre Woods. Winnie spoke up, her face shining with excitement. And Daddy says he will always be here if I ever need someone to talk to or want to go on an adventure too!
The woman threw Christopher an accusing look, which he chose to ignore.
Dinner, she repeated, deciding there was nothing she could do now about the troublesome stuffed animal. Children could believe what they wanted
that was what made them so innocent. She couldnt see anything wrong with her daughter believing in a magical stuffed bear, even if it was a little odd in her opinion.
Winnie smiled, slipping off the bed. She skipped to the woman, taking her mothers hand. Even though she knew her mother thought that the idea of the talking bear was silly, Winnie was sure that it was the most magical thing she had ever heard of. Even as she walked out the door to go to dinner, her mind swirled with thoughts of all the adventures she planned to take the worn stuffed bear on.
Coming Christopher? The woman asked, pausing in the doorway to look at her husband.
Yes, Ill be there in a moment. Christopher replied quickly. His wife nodded, leading Winnie away to wash her hands.
With his wife and daughter out of sight Christopher rose, placing Winnie the Pooh gently down on the pillow.
We had some good times, didnt we fella? He said softly, patting the bear fondly on the head. But I had to grow up eventually, all of us do. He added, almost as if he had to justify his behavior. He paused, reconsidering his words and finally shaking his head.
No, not all of us grow up, he admitted. Youll always be the same Pooh Bear
but now youll have to play with Winnie rather than me Pooh. Im too old for what we used to do. I dont have enough imagination left to play all our games.
Christopher Robin walked to the door, reaching for the light switch. He paused, looking back towards the stuffed bear.
Youll always be my silly old bear. He whispered, turning out the light.