Our house is slowly filling up with bears. There are bears on my bed. Bears peer down from the tops of bookshelves. Bears are crammed into baskets. They sit on the floor… They are everywhere.  All the bears belong to Thomas.

Of course he’s not here to play with them. But they are still his. They represent all the birthdays and Christmases since he was born and died. Almost fourteen years’ worth (plus a few extra). That’s quite a lot of bears.

“We’ll have to start thinking about Thomas’ birthday,” I say to the girls. “We’ll have to find him a new bear.”

A Thomas bear isn’t just any old bear. There has to be something special about it… a quirky expression, funny oversize paws, an extra soft huggable body. I always know when I’ve found the right bear. It practically shouts at me, “Take me! I’m Thomas’ bear!”

Last year I had trouble finding Thomas a Christmas bear. All the bears in our local shops were rather ordinary. They barely glanced at me as I walked by. I spent some time panicking and imagining the unthinkable: a Christmas without a bear. Then I had a new idea. Perhaps I could find the perfect bear online. 

I opened my computer and scrolled through pages and pages of bears, until one caught my eye. It was peering at me over his huge fat nose. “That’s the one!” I thought. A few clicks later and the bear was mine, or rather, it was Thomas'. Soon it was flying through the post on its way to join his collection.

Here’s a photo of that bear. We called it Gabriel. 




I name all Thomas’ bears after saints. Usually I try to think of ones that have some sort of significance to a particular year. (But it doesn't always work out that way.) The year Felicity became a novice we named his birthday and Christmas bears Felicity and Raphael, her religious name. 

When John Henry Cardinal Newman was beatified, I actually bought two bears for Thomas' birthday: The Cardinal and Newman. (There's no rule that says I can only give him one bear!)

Mary Mackillop became part of the family the year Australia received her first saint.

Why did we call this one Gabriel? Actually I can’t remember! In the photo, it's sitting in the middle of Thomas' Christmas memorial. That candle smelt so good, all spicy and woody.

Gabriel is a Gund bear. I rather like Gund bears. Shall I buy another one as Thomas’ birthday gift for this year? What do you think? Here’s a few I like…

This one is Hubble...


Here is Philbin...


Alfie has a rather round tummy...


Goober is even fatter...



I like Gus' hair cut!


How about Schlep?


Slumber looks very round and soft...


So does Wooly!




Of course the bear is going to need a name. He can't keep the one he arrives with. If Thomas hadn’t already got a bear called Francis, that would have been a good choice for this year. He has a Benedict too... I think. Sometimes I get into a muddle. So many bears. I will have to check.

Thomas' birthday is on the 9th November. I have to make some decisions. Which bear do I buy? And what shall I call him? 

I've got another bear story somewhere. It's all about how the bear collection started. I didn't consciously decide to buy bears, you know. I didn't even like the first bear he was given. Maybe you'd like to read it? It is called Leo, Augustine and Theo, and it begins in this way... 

He arrived in the centre of a funeral wreath and I didn't like him. He was blue and soft and fluffy and any child would have adored him. But my child was dead. He had no need of a bear and so I didn’t want him. We hid him away. And there he remained for a year, forgotten as I grieved for our son.

But before you disappear off to read the rest...

Please help me decide which is the right bear. And if you know a perfect name, I'd love to hear it. It doesn't matter if the name is relevant to 2013 or not!

Does anyone else have a special collection?




PS: I'd have to look at all the bottoms of the bears (that's where I attach a bit of tape with the bear's name) to make a complete list of names we've already used. From memory (and a quick peek at a few bears!) Thomas already has bears called Charles, Aquinas, Edith, Josephine, Theodore, Augustine, Leo, Cyril, Philip, Theo, Elizabeth, Stanislaus, James, Rose, John Paul, Anthony Plunkett (one bear, two saints!), Therese, Edmund, and Vianney, as well as the ones I mentioned in my story.

I bought my last Gund bear from Teddy Bears Direct. I'd better tell you that, as that's where I got these photos of their bears. Good service if you need a bear!


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  1. I took a vote here. We have two votes for Goober (Thomas and Olivia) and one vote for Slumber (John). We were talking about your Thomas and all of your other children. Olivia says you must be a "very busy mom" to have so many children. ;-) And she wants to come visit.

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    1. Pam,

      Olivia sounds like a very delightful young lady. I would love it if she could come and visit! Of course, she'd have to bring you and the boys along too. Olivia and the boys could explore Thomas' teddies while we sip coffee or tea and chat... I love to dream!

      Thank you for being part of our yearly teddy bear tradition. When Thomas' bear arrives and is given his name, I'll post a photo!

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    2. Popping in again to say that I think Goober LOOKS like a Bosco. What a great name for a bear!

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    3. Pam,

      I think I agree with you! I'm so glad you returned with that great suggestion. Thank you.

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  2. Hi Sue...well, it is Sanjay's Birthday today ( October 9th) And though he isn't an official Saint, if you got and "India" looking bear you could call it after him...or his middle name is Alexander...or his confirmation name is Dominic Savio...what a great way to keep Thomas' Birthday!

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    1. Karla,

      Sanjay's and Thomas' birthdays occur on the same day of the month, and only a month apart. Now that is easy to remember! I am glad I posted this story on Sanjay's birthday, and you posted a birthday post for him too. It's good to connect and remember and share with each other.

      I love all your name choices. I'm beginning to think two bears a year isn't nearly enough. I shall have to cheat and buy Thomas some extra bears so I can use all the wonderful saints' names. I'm so pleased you suggested the name 'Sanjay'. Thank you.

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog on Sanjay's birthday! Happy birthday Sanjay! Karla, you are in my prayers. xx

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  3. What a collection of bears, saints and memories. I looked in my calendar, and saw thar I had two saints today, Cardinal Newman and saint Denis of Paris. I vote for a serious, a bit grumpy looking bear with the name Denis. Thomas would be a young man on his birthday if he was still among us, and those cuddly bears would maybe not fit in with the way he would look at himself.

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    1. Uglemor,

      I love Cardinal Newman. I bought two bears for Thomas' birthday, the year he was beatified and named them The Cardinal and Newman. But Thomas doesn't have a bear called Denis. A grumpy looking bear? I think I like grumpy!

      We've talked about Thomas being 14 and whether bears are still an appropriate gift. I suggested we started buying something different, but the girls protested: "Bears are a tradition, Mum! We can't change now." I guess they get a lot of pleasure out of them. So do I! I suppose even in the early years, Thomas wasn't a baby... He was grown up the moment he died... he's all grown up in Heaven. And I think he understands about bears! But yes, maybe a grumpy one would be a lot of fun!

      Thank you so much for your suggestions.

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  4. Oh, and I vote for Philbin or Goober...they look nice!

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    1. Karla,

      I like Philbin's paws and I like the expression on Goober's face!

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  5. What adorable bears! I think Ignatius would be a good name. :) Bosco too. :)

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    1. I posted names I like. LOL Now for the Bears... I like Goober and and Philbin the best. Robyn likes Wooly the best, all though we think they are ALL really really cute! :)

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    2. Since Robyn was looking at the bears, she read your blog entry, and asked me about Thomas. So I shared him with her, (of course I was tearful, discussing him), and also I was worrying how she might react/feel about it. She read some of what you have posted, and intently viewed a few of the pictures. She looked very, very sad, but was matter of fact about it. I think actually she realizes a little better how precious it is to have children. Her response is that she wants a big family one day, with many children. I believe this has given her much to ponder.. she is sad and upset now.. but I think it also taught her something. ♥ ♥

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    3. Susan,

      Another vote for Philbin and Goober! Wooly looks like a happy bear!

      Ignatius and Bosco... I do like those names very much. I'm going to write everyone's names down. I am sure a lot more bears are going to join Thomas' collection. They'll all need names.

      Thank you for sharing Thomas with Robyn. When I was pregnant with Thomas I begged God not to let him die, if not for me, then for our children's sake. I didn't want them to suffer the pain of losing a brother. I didn't think they would cope. But they all survived and I feel they have a deeper understanding about life and death and suffering because of experiencing it first-hand. I agree, children are more matter of fact about such things, though they also do feel deep sorrow at the same time.

      Yes, children are very precious, a real gift and blessing. I hope Robyn is blessed with a big family one day. It sounds like she is growing up. Life is difficult and it's not easy watching our children find this out. But you are right: we all have to learn. And in some ways, I think children who have experience of pain have an advantage over those who haven't. They are more prepared. They also know more about the deep love God has for each one of us!

      Susan, I always love chatting with you, and especially sharing Thomas. Thank you for stopping by today. Please give a big hug to my special friend Robyn! xx

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  6. What a precious tradition!!! And goodness, you have your work cut out for you finding the "right" bear(s)! I want to squeeze every one of them. :)

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    1. Nancy,

      Finding the perfect bear is one of the joys of celebrating Thomas' birthday. We need our traditions. They really do help keep Thomas a part of the family, and they give us some practical way of expressing our love for him.

      I could quite easily buy ALL the bears! Yes, they look so huggable. Unfortunately I can only buy one for Thomas birthday but... I can also buy him one for Christmas! I wonder if he'd like an Easter bear...

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