Sunday, November 28, 2010




 He had arrived in the store just before Christmas when there had been a lovely big tree in the window, all decorated with fairy lights. Yards and yards of sparkling tinsel had been draped over everything, and holiday music had been playing all the time. Wolstencroft was especially fond of Jingle Bells. He liked its light, tinkling sounds. It always made him feel merry.

At that time there had been lots of other bears to keep him company. In fact, there had been so many teddy bears crowded onto that one narrow shelf that he had scarcely had room to move.
     But, one by one they had all gone. Gleefully waving goodbye as they were carried off to their new homes. Until finally, he was the only teddy bear left in the entire store.
     He had hoped that Santa Claus would drop by on Christmas Eve and deliver him to a good home. But he hadn't. Santa had been too busy that year, delivering even more presents than usual.

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     Wolstencroft felt sad and lonely sitting there all by himself on the shelf that was high above the Christmas cards. He longed to have a child take him home and love him and play with him. But, most of all, to hug him. For no hug is ever too big for a teddy bear.
     He was trying hard not to cry because he knew that tears would make his eyes all puffy and red and then he would have even less chance of finding a home.
     But why oh why didn't someone choose him?
     Why, he wondered, was he passed over so many times for other less beautiful bears?

  Then one day, shortly before Easter, three bunny rabbits were placed on the shelf beside him.

     They all had very big ears and feet and long legs. All three were wearing woolen sweaters.

     Rita Rabbit wore a pink sweater. Roger Rabbit a green one. And Ronnie wore blue.

     Roger and Ronnie were twins, and Rita was their sister.

     "My you are a handsome bear," Rita told Wolstencroft after the store had closed for the night. "I'm surprised that no one has bought you and taken you home."

     "So am I," replied Wolstencroft and, although he tried very hard to stop it, a tear rolled down his furry cheek.


Now Wolstencroft had always been able to say his name correctly. But then, it was his very own name and everyone can say his or her own name. At least he thought that they could. Not when they are very little, of course. He couldn't say his name when he was a tiny baby bear. But after he had started going to school he knew it very well.
     "Wolstencroft," the teacher would call out. "Will you recite the alphabet for us today?"
     And he would name all the letters from A to Z. All 26 of them. He was a very smart bear.
  On Easter Sunday, very early just after the store had opened, a Mommy and Daddy bought Roger and Ronnie for their twin boys.
   "They look nice," Rita said. She was happy that her brothers had found a good home but felt sad, too, because she was beginning to miss them already.
     At the front of the store a table had been set up with chocolate Easter eggs. And as it was now Easter Sunday, they had been marked down to half price.
     After everyone had gone home for the day, Wolstencroft picked the nicest egg he could find and gave it to Rita, to cheer her up.
     They shared the egg, sucking on the sweet creamy chocolate and making sure it didn't get onto their clothes.
     Then they started to talk about the name Wolstencroft again.
     "I wouldn't want to change it," Wolstencroft declared. " I mean it's me. I've had it all my life.
     "But if it's stopping you from getting a home," Rita insisted. "You may have to."
     She hopped over to the book department and returned with a book called What to Name Baby.
Then she began reading out the names she thought might suit Wolstencroft.
     "What about Adrian?" she suggested. "It's a lovely name, very dignified."
     But Wolstencroft shook his head.
     "Well, what do you think of Bernard? It actually means brave as a bear."
     But Wolstencroft was not impressed.
     So Rita left the B's and began flipping through the pages of the book, reading out a name for each letter of the alphabet starting with C.

  But finally, just before the dawn rose in the eastern sky, Rita had convinced him that Woolly was the best choice.
     "You're right," Wolstencroft said as he closed his eyes and prepared to sleep. "It's nice to be dignified, but not to be stuffy."
     And so it was that Wolstencroft became known as Woolly for short.
     "I bet someone will come along and buy you tomorrow," Rita predicted as she fetched a black felt pen from the stationery department and underneathWolstencroft, wrote Woolly for short.
   Then one frosty evening when the stars were sparkling in the night sky and snowflakes were dancing past the windows, a little boy and his daddy came into the store.
     "Hey look at this," said the daddy when he noticed Wolstencroft's name tag. "This teddy bear has the same name as you! Only you're called Sten for short and he's called Woolly."
     "What?" The boy called out in surprise. "I didn't think anyone else in the whole great big world was called Wolstencroft."
     And just like Wolstencroft the bear, he was beginning to hate his name.
     "Why don't you two get to know each other?" the daddy suggested as he lifted Wolstencroft down from the shelf.
     And the little boy wrapped his arms around his namesake, which means someone who has the same name as yourself, and stroked his soft fur. And they both loved each other from that moment on.

     "I love him daddy, can I have him for Christmas?" he asked hopefully. And when his daddy said yes, danced around the store with Wolstencroft, almost colliding with other shoppers as he did so.
Wolstencroft really wasn't such a bad name after all they both decided as they whirled around the Christmas tree at the front of the store. In fact, it was starting to sound better all the time now that they had found each other in this wonderful way.

     Wolstencroft the bear had never remembered feeling this happy before. Indeed, he felt so chock-full of joy that he thought he just might burst. He was going to a new home at last. And he knew that this little boy, who was called Sten, would be his very best friend forever.
     Then Sten gave him a hug so big that his tummy was squished. But, of course, Wolstencroft didn't care. Because no hug is too big for a teddy bear.

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