A Teddy Bear Called Tedrina
(By An Anonymous Contributor)
A Christmas Story
When my son Justin was born, he was given a Teddy bear. Just a normal old bear, in no way exceptional except to him. Most children have an “attachment object” preferred to all others and Tedrina was Justin’s. He played, ate and slept with it. It was his constant companion. And, like all children, there were times that Justin would need to be soothed when he was sick, crabby or had trouble getting to sleep. Almost a member of the family, Tedrina accompanied us everywhere. Until one particularly busy day when we returned home and discovered that Tedrina was missing. The car was searched, the house torn apart yet no Tedrina was found. A difficult night ensued with promises that all our steps would be retraced the next day in order to find the AWOL bear. Despite days of searching in all logical, and many illogical, places she was never found.
The child grieved. I mean really grieved. There was no wailing, no overt anger, but lots of quiet crying. Almost every night he would say before bed: “ I really miss Tedrina.” And he would quietly look for her. It was difficult to watch and there was very little that could be said.
Several months went by, but it was clear that he still missed his bear. He would speak of her lovingly and say things like: “I hope if someone took her they are nice to her.” As parents, you can’t help but feel for your kid, but on the other hand, we felt he really needed to “move on.” His Dad suggested, in practical Dad fashion, that we embargo any further discussion of the bear and try to focus on other things like learning to play ball and eat more neatly. But I concocted a plan to replace Tedrina.
Justin was one of those children who, for whatever reason, seemed to always be able to read. He knew his alphabet by sight before the age of two and could read very competently by three. I decided a letter from Tedrina would be the perfect way to introduce a new bear. I enlisted my husband, grudgingly, and my mother, enthusiastically, in the plan to recruit the “new Tedrina.” We set off on a trip to the Vermont Teddy Bear factory without revealing our destination to Justin or his younger brother. On the way, we stopped at a park for a break and I said to Justin: “Oh, a letter came for you yesterday. I forgot. Here it is. Why don’t you read it?” While my mother, husband and I sat on a park bench, Justin pulled out the letter and read:
My dearest Justin:
I know you miss me terribly and I miss you a lot. But I am happy and I want you to be happy too. I snuck on a plane to Minnesota and returned to my Mommy, Daddy and little brother Amos. Yes, I have a little brother like Alex, and he is annoying too. I have heard you are going to a farm in Vermont. I have made a special plan. You see, I think I may have left you a little too soon and you do need a very special bear for a bit longer.
At the Vermont Bear Factory a special bear is waiting for you. I cannot describe her, but you will know her the moment you see her. Pick her up, cuddle her and take her home. She will be a very lucky bear to be loved by a little boy as nice as you. And, some day, perhaps not so long from now, she’ll be ready to leave. And, believe it or not, you’ll be ready to let her go.”
When you are a bit older, I will write to you again from the woods of Minnesota and let you know what I have been doing. Until then, and forever…
I love you,
P.S. One little X for Alex
The letter was a masterful stroke on my part, and he seemed to totally buy into getting a new bear. The remainder of the trip involved discussion of how Tedrina’s family must have been so excited when she got back and what their den was like.
At the factory, he looked and looked for just the right bear. In the end, he chose a bear nothing like Tedrina and named it Chrysanthemum. It rode home on his lap. But the bear was clearly not Tedrina. And still, from time to time, he would say, “I really wish Tedrina would come home… maybe even for a visit.”
He had lost the bear in the spring. We had gotten the replacement bear in the summer. Now, it was fall. During the course of seven or eight months of tearing apart the house Tedrina never made an appearance. In late November, I was in the hall closet (which I had totally dismantled looking for the bear in late spring) bending over to get a shoe when something hit me on the back. I reached down and it was… of course, Tedrina. I closed the closet door…opened it… closed it. Sat down and thought. Where did it come from? Was this divine intervention? White magic? I could NOT have missed that bear. Should I give it to him? Wasn’t he getting a little old for the bear? I was in no shape to make a decision. Everybody was home and the usual chaos was ensuing so I decided to let it be for a little while. After the kids were in bed, I revealed the “startling truth” to my husband. He came down definitively on the side of its not being divine intervention or magic. I called my mother, and she was just as convinced it was either divine intervention or white magic or both. My husband felt that Justin was getting too old for the bear and it would be better to just let Tedrina “hibernate eternally” in the closet. My mother was all for running upstairs immediately and plopping the bear in bed with the kid.
It was late November and that time when all things Santa erupt on the scene. Justin announced it was time to write his Santa letter. In the past, Justin’s letters could run to several pages and involve detailed descriptions of each item he wished to receive. He had also confided to me that there were troubling aspects as to how Santa managed to make, pack and deliver all these toys around the world but he was not yet willing to deduce the obvious explanation. I handed him a ream of paper and pencil. I was shocked when he was back in two minutes. The letter read:
All I want is for Tedrina to come back. Please help.
The brevity. The sincerity. The trust. OK, OK she’s coming back! Time for yet another letter.
Christmas Morning. Piles of packages are ripped apart in a frenzy of preschooler delight. Justin is moving methodically through each package. He smiles with varying degrees of pleasure and moves on to the next…. and the next. Finally it is over. There are no more. His shoulders droop. No one says a word. I enlist his brother and my mother to go and start breakfast. His dad asks him to help build a fire. They open the fire screen and there is a package. Bright red with a big white bow. His Dad yells, “ Hey, Santa dropped one on his way down the chimney.” We all run into the living room as Justin carefully opens the present.
He grabs a paw and leaps into the air. Tedrina comes free and flies into his arms. He dances, lurches, hugs and screams. He is happiness defined. There is, of course, a letter.
My dear Justin:
Last night, as we took off, Mrs. Claus shouted: “Santa, don’t forget your special gift for little Justin.” Over Montana I yelled “Rudolf, hang a left” and on we sped to Bear Paw. So, I set the sled down in a snowy field and I trudged along until I came upon Tedrina, Amos and their parents just settling down for their long winter’s nap. I explained how much you missed Tedrina and how you longed to see her again. Everyone agreed that Tedrina’s place was really with you. So, with a twinkle of my eye, Tedrina was changed from her full bear self back into the little Teddy you have loved for so long. A kiss for her parents (and Amos) and off to the sled we sped.
Justin, I understand that you and your brother Alex have had some doubts about me and how Christmas really happens. But, you see, I am magic and magic can’t be explained. And there is magic in you too. So, grab that bear and take good care of her. And never lose that touch of magic that brought Tedrina back to you.
Our sons are grown now, but they still talk about the Christmas that Tedrina came home, and it keeps alive for us the small beauties of the Christmas Season.