If you were to go to a toy shop in New York and peeked in, you would most likely see toys of all sorts. But one particular you shop, an old, worn down, toy shop, was different.
If it happened to be night, and you happened to peek in, you would see something different. You would see the toys talk and move, just like you or me.
The little teddy bear was one of these toys. He, Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful lives on a shelf in the window. First Bashful, then the little teddy bear, then Grumpy, then Sleepy. Just like it always was.
Like their names, Bashful, Grumpy, and Sleepy were bashful, grumpy, and sleepy. The little teddy bear didn’t have a name. He didn’t care. More than anything, he wanted a home.
One cold, snowy, blustery December night, the little teddy bear was quite restless. The other bears were sound asleep, except for Bashful who was humming to himself. At night, the toys were allowed to move around, but not much, in case a human saw them. They could talk, though. The little teddy bear squirmed and wiggled, then finally said, “Bashful? Do I have a name?”
Bashful turned to look at him. “Why, I don’t think so,” Bashful answered.
“Really?” The little teddy bear was shocked. Did he really not have a name? He had never really wanted one, but to learn he didn’t have one at all was devastating.
“Of course, Grumpy, Sleepy, and I wouldn’t have names either if we hadn’t bee played with.” Bashful continued. Now the little teddy bear could sense a story coming on. Bashful loved to tell stories. The little teddy bear had been around long enough to know that Bashful would eventually tell the story anyway, even if no one asked, but just for the fun the little teddy bear begged, “Oh please, Bashful, tell the rest!”
“Okay,” Bashful grinned. He glanced around him to make sure that Sleepy and Grumpy were still asleep, then started. “A long time ago, it was just us three. We were like you, with no names. One day, Grumpy was bought. He wasn’t grumpy yet, and was still quite – um, – cheerful. He was very content.
“But not more than an hour had passed before he was back.
” ‘What happened?’ we asked. Grumpy just groaned. Then he told us that the children he got sent to had christened him a “grumpy old bear” and refused him. That’s where he got the name Grumpy, and he still hasn’t gotten over the sting of those children refusing him yet. That’s why he’s so rotten all the time.
“Sleepy and I had better experiences – we were actually played with. But our children got too old, so we were returned here. We three still hope to be bought, though.” As Bashful said those last few words, the sun rose, so no more words could be said. This was because soon cheerful Mr. Brown would come to open the shop.
For once the little teddy bear did not have to be told to be quiet. He was already speechless, thinking about Bashful’s story. Now he wanted a home more than ever!
Ring ring! The bells on the door rang, signaling the entrance of Mr. Brown. “Today’s a big day, Ted!” he remarked cheerfully. Ted, the assistant, nodded. Apparently he had no idea what was happening. The little teddy bear didn’t either.
“It’s the week before Christmas, Ted! And you know what that means … customers!” Mr. Brown continued happily.
The little teddy bear almost jumped in delight. Christmas! Even though he had never experienced a Christmas before, he had heard plenty of wonderful stories from the dolls that lived on the shelf under the bears. All the stories were great: how Mr. Brown had the window covered in fake snow, how he hung lights, red balls and tinsel on the outside, and how the shop was filled with happy customers.
But best of all, Christmas was a time of giving, meaning that people would be getting toys. In all the stories, the toys were bought and happily sent to homes.
Just then, a man came in, the first customer of the day. The little teddy bear saw that he was buying a toy for a child.
“A teddy bear? Of course!” Mr. Brown said. The little teddy bear sat up higher The man wanted a teddy bear! Mr. Brown led the man over to the window.
“Here are the teddy bears you can choose from.” Mr. Brown told the man. The man peered closely at the bears.
“I’ll take this one,” he finally said. He picked up Grumpy. The little teddy bear gasped. He looked closer. Was Grumpy actually smiling? He was! For once in the little teddy bear’s life he had seen Grumpy happy.
“Goodbye Grumpy,” he thought sadly as the man picked up Grumpy and left.
As the days moved on, the shop got busier and busier, and more and more toys got purchased. The toy blocks were taken, the trains and the toy boats were taken, and the dolls that had told him Christmas Stories were taken. Pretty soon the little teddy bear was left alone, for Bashful and Sleepy were bought and packaged too.
Finally it was the night before Christmas Eve. No one had bought the little teddy bear yet. Looking out to the inky black sky from the window where he sat, the little teddy bear saw one lone star. He closed his embroidered eyes and wished very hard. “Please let me have a home too,” he whispered. Then he fell asleep.
The next morning a hand jostled the little teddy bear awake. He opened his eyes and saw Ted carrying him to the counter.
“Wrap him up nice and tight, Ted!” Mr. Brown called from the back of the shop. The little teddy bear smiled. His wish was coming true! He was getting a home for Christmas!
A few hours later he arrived at a large mansion. The little teddy bear had just been on a train and was feeling quite carsick. But his sickness cleared up once he heard a girl and a boy run eagerly out.
“Oh Nanny!” they exclaimed eagerly. “It’s come! The present from Mother and Father! Please let us open it!”
An old lady came out. When she saw the package and the children’s excited faces, she sighed. “Children,” she said tiredly, “It’s the day before Christmas. Can’t you wait?”
“No, no, we can’t!” the girl cried.
“Please, please!” the boy pleaded.
“Okay,” the nanny sighed. “But just this one.”
Inside his package, the little teddy bear could feel himself being carried inside. He waited eagerly. The boy ran to him first.
“Maybe it’s a toy train!” he shouted. “No, a doll!” the girl persisted. They ripped open the package. The little teddy bear was aghast. On their faces was a look of disgust, not happiness. His shock turned to disappointment when the children yelled, “It’s just an old raggedy bear!” and threw him against the wall.
“Children, please,” the nanny cried. But the children shouted even more. Finally, the nanny had no choice but to send the little teddy bear back to the toy shop.
On the way home, the little teddy bear inspected himself. Was he really as raggedy as the children had called him? True, his bow was a little lopsided, and his ears were a little off center. But he couldn’t be that bad, could he?
It was dark by the time the little teddy bear arrived back at the toy shop. Mr. Brown glanced at the memo the nanny had attached explaining why she sent the little teddy bear back, and set the little teddy bear back on the shelf. Then Mr. Brown locked up and left.
“I guess my wish didn’t come true after all,” the little teddy bear said sadly.
The next morning the little teddy bear found himself in a package again. “I wonder where I’m going now,” he thought. “I bet it will be just like last time.” The trip was brief. Pretty soon he was unwrapped and set on a small kitchen table.
“Where are all the children?” he asked himself. “Where are the mothers and fathers?” There was only a plump middle-aged lady preparing breakfast. The little bear did not know it but he had arrived at an orphanage.
“Ella!” the lady called. “Come and get your breakfast!” A few minutes later, a small, brown-haired girl appeared in the kitchen.
By then, the little teddy bear had looked out the window and read the big oak sign that said “Miller’s Orphanage.” When he saw the girl, he suddenly realized what had happened. All the other children had been adopted for Christmas except for Ella, this girl in front of him. She was smaller than normal children and raggedy, just like the little teddy bear.
“Oh, Aunt Miller!” Ella cried. She ran to the little teddy bear and hugged him. “Thank you!”
“I guess,” the little teddy bear thought happily, “that my wish came true after all!”
A little two-month-early Christmas cheer brought to you by sixth-grade Ashley. (Not so) loosely based on one of my favorite picture books, The Story of Holly and Ivy.