It was a few weeks before Christmas and I with my mother who was doing some last minute Christmas and grocery shopping. She always did plan ahead, so we weren’t really looking at anything but food in the local Dillons. However, if you’ve ever been in a Dillons store around Christmas time, you’ve probably also noticed all the extra gift baskets, stuffed animals, candles, and stocking stuffers that they put out to try to entice customers; beseeching us to remember our long lost cousin twice-removed…and how we’ve “forgotten” to buy him that perfect gift.
My mother always did try to rush past this section of the store when my two siblings and I were with her. There is nothing like the ruckus of a noisy disobedient child to disrupt other peoples Christmas shopping. I’m not saying that we were noisy or disobedient children… but Christmas time can often turn the most perfect children into little devils. This particular evening, it was only me and my mother. Being eight years old and her eldest child, I thought myself pretty spiffy and quite “grown-up” to be going with mother to do her shopping.
We had a rule in the store: if you begged, you wouldn’t get what you wanted. However, this rule seemed to fly out the window as I spied a bright blue bear across the aisle. I remember asking my mom if I could go over and look at it. She smiled and said go ahead, so I waltzed over to the place where it sat, all lonely and deserted on the shelf. There were pink bears, green bears, and even yellow bears, but there was not one other blue bear. In my eight year old innocence I felt compassion and pity for the poor thing. Seeing that she was the only blue one on the shelf about broke my heart. I gently picked her up and looked into her glass eyes. Sadness filled my heart, but suddenly I realized that she wouldn’t have to be alone anymore if I could keep her company!
I trotted over to my mother, who was in the checkout line already and quickly explained to her why this exact bear was the “lonely” one and how her blue fluffy little body “needed me”. Of course my mother gave the answer that is common among mothers during the holiday season: “Christmas is coming”. A small tear started to form in the corner of my eye as I desperately tried to explain to my mother that this dear bear was the only blue one left on the shelf… and that it might not be there again because someone else might buy it before Christmas. My mother compassionately grasp the bear with one hand and stared into its beady glass eyes, just as I had done. I was absolutely crushed to realize that she didn’t see the sadness and loneliness in its face like I did. Finally, she handed it back to me and responded: “Well, maybe some other girl really wants a blue bear for Christmas…and if we bought it, she wouldn’t get one, would she?” This was the only thing that seemed to console me and I hesitantly went and placed “my” beautiful blue bear back onto the shelf amongst the other colorful stuffed animals.
The days until Christmas started getting fewer and fewer. Every time my mother went to Dillons I would always check and see if “Blue Bell” was still there. However, I only had to check once, because she was already gone when we walked into the store again a few days later. I was crushed and literally cried some tears about my dear bear being gone. But then I would think of the lucky young girl who was going to give her a good home this Christmas and I would smile while trying to imagine her happiness at receiving “such a nice bear” as a gift.
As soon as Blue Bell disappeared from the store, it was as if she disappeared from my mind as well. I thought about her several more times…but was no longer hoping to receive her for Christmas… since she was already going to another little girl.
Christmas morning came…and I opened all my presents, never giving a second thought to that little blue bear that had captured my attention as well as my eight year old heart. However, not too many things escape a mothers notice and she turned to me wearing one of her huge famous smiles as she pulled one last package out from behind the tree. I was afraid to breathe as I pulled the tissue paper from the lovely decorated bag. To my complete joy and utter amazement, there sat my dear Blue Bell… looking as perfect as when I fell in love with her that first day in Dillons. I screamed and immediately got up and started running around the house yelling “Blue Bell! Blue Bell! Blue Bell!” and snuggling her close to my heart; vowing to never let her go.
It might have just been the early morning sun as it glistened in through the large oak windows of our living room… or perhaps it was the reflection of the twinkling lights that decorated the Christmas tree in the corner, but I was absolutely sure that I caught a sparkle in Blue Bell’s beady glass eyes.