Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Leona's Christmas tradition: Each year I write a story for some of my great-grandchildren working backward from some object to develop a theme or plot. (See my blog archive CHILDREN'S STORIES in the SEARCH category.)  Then I give the objects as a gift to the family. This year it's a somewhat pretend sequel to "Cuddle Bear Cottage" posted in 2015 to reflect the present ages of two of my great-grands.

Once upon a time, two little girls went on an adventure. Makenna has just turned seven and Myla is "going on three." Their daddy and mommy are Kara and Brian. They live in a beautiful neighborhood in Maryland.

At Christmas their parents often read to the children the previous pretend stories which their Great-grandma “Bubi” Leona wrote for them. One of the pretend stories was about Four Bears whose name was “Cuddlebear.” So the story goes, they live together happily ever after in a beautiful little pretend cottage in a pretend forest.

Makenna loved that story so much that she decided she and her little sister Myla should try to find out if there really truly was a Cuddle Bear Cottage where friendly bears lived. “Let's get all dressed up and go to visit them,” said Makenna. “Let's call it a Christmas visit.” Myla liked to do whatever her older sister liked to do because it was always sure to be fun. So she went along with Makenna's plan.

Both of the girls liked to wear fancy hats and both of them liked to wear green dresses. Myla wanted to wear her dress with the pink fringes. Both had green bows tied in the back. Myla wore her boots—she liked to wear them all the time. She would have slept in them if Mommy Kara had permitted her to. And guess what? Makenna was in such a hurry to go that she forgot to put on her shoes! But since they were going to a pretend place, she didn't think it would matter. She liked to go barefooted.

Just as they were about to leave, the little neighbor dog named “Woofie” barked and begged to go along with them. “No, no, Woofie. You might scare the bear family if you came with us. Go home now!”
Makenna picked a bouquet of flowers to bring to the bear family because in the story the Cuddle Bears all liked flowers. Myla carried Mommy Kara's old purse that mommy let her play with, and insisted on bringing her doll carriage. Instead of putting her dolly in it, she put her teddy bear in it, the one with the blue ribbon around his neck. After all, they were going to visit bears. They set off for the pretend woods on their pretend adventure.

By and by they arrived at Cuddle Cottage. Yes, just like in the story, there was “Welcome” on the door step and a gold heart at the tip of the roof, and flowers blooming in the flower boxes beneath the windows. AND, sure enough, there was that tall magic flower blooming higher than the cottage. 

Myla was a little scared and hung back, but Makenna came right up to the door and knocked. “I hear voices inside,” she whispered to Myla, “the bear family must be home.”

Soon the door opened wide. “Merry Christmas!” shouted the girls together. Two young Cuddle Bears hugged each other and called, “Mommy, Daddy, two someones have come to visit us! We love visitors!” They danced around clapping their paws.

The Bear parents hurried to the door smiling in welcome. “Who are these beautiful little girls?” asked Mommy Cuddle Bear wiping her paws on her apron because she had been busy making breakfast for her family. “We must invite them in to have breakfast with us. Come in, girls!”

Makenna gave Mommy Cuddle Bear her flowers, and Myla parked her doll carriage inside the door. “Oh!” said the littlest bear, “Look! She brought a little bear to visit us too. May I play with it?” Myla was a bit shy to talk to bears, so she just smiled and nodded.

“Quickly, little bears, bring two extra chairs and set the table with two more bowls. Pick out the prettiest bowls for our girl visitors,” said Mommy Bear as she took the big pot of porridge [oatmeal] from the stove.” The bear who was about Makenna's age put a bowl in front of her. “ This one is for you. It has two snow men on it. It is nighttime. See the moon and the stars?”

“And this one is for you,” said the smaller bear putting his bowl in front of Myla. “It has one snowman and it is snowing. There are four stockings hanging on it—like there are four people in your family, and four bears in our family. The little bear in the snow on the bowl is like the one you brought in your doll carriage.”

Daddy Cuddle Bear brought the pitcher of milk and the honey to the table. Honey is a favorite food of bears. They hunt through the forest to find honey made by bees in hollow trees. Makenna and Myla politely thanked the Bear family for their invitation to breakfast with them. Before they ate, Daddy Cuddle Bear asked them all to hold hands [and paws], bow their heads and close their eyes while they prayed together: “God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for this food.” Makenna and Myla didn't quite shut their eyes—this was the first time they ever held someone's paws. It felt kind of ticklish.

After breakfast the two young bears, both of whom were about the same ages as Makenna and Myla, showed the girls through Cuddle Cottage to see their Christmas decorations. In their bedroom were two small beds side by side with matching quilts. 

Makenna thanked the Cuddle family for welcoming them. “We have to go home now. We are going to tell our Mommy and Daddy about our adventure and our new Cuddle family friends.”

Mommy Cuddle Bear said with a twinkle in her eye, “Wait! Since you told us that this is a pretend visit, perhaps Daddy Brian and Mommy Kara might think your visit was all in your imagination. Here....” She brought the two bowls from which the girls had eaten and gave them to Makenna and Myla. “These are our Christmas gifts to you to remind you of your really-truly happy visit to Cuddle Bear Cottage.”

The girls said thank you for the bowls and everybody gave everybody else a gentle bear hug. “Be sure to come again!” called Mommy Cuddle Bear. 

Before they knew it, Makenna and Myla were back in their own yard and “Woofie” the neighbor dog was wagging his tail to welcome them.

“Where have you girls been?” asked Mommy Kara. “And where did you get those beautiful bowls?” Makenna tried to explain about their pretend adventure trip to Cuddle Bear Cottage and about the bowls, but Mommy just smiled and shook her head. “Well, those bowls are not pretend. Bring them in the house. Our lunch is nearly ready and you girls can eat out of your Cuddle bowls if you wish. Then you can explain to Daddy Brian more about your Christmas adventure.”

And so they did. Makenna and Myla always ever after wanted to eat their food from their beautiful bowls because it reminded them of their happy Christmas visit to their new friends.

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