For a baby no longer alive, Thomas has a lot of bears. And they keep increasing in number. Our son has birthday bears and Christmas bears and even some bears-for-no-particular-reason. Chubby, cuddly, stuffed animals are taking over our home. And this is a bit of a problem.
Last year, I wondered: “Perhaps we shouldn’t buy any more bears,” but all my girls shouted, “We have to keep buying Thomas bears. It’s a tradition.”
Traditions can’t be broken according to my daughters. We can’t suddenly stop buying bears for their brother who is no longer here, just because they are taking up too much space.
When Christmas arrived last year, I hesitated just for a moment and then bought Thomas a new bear as usual. Brown with knobbly knees and poky elbows, it’s absolutely irresistible.
“What will you call it?” asked Sophie.
“I don’t know. Any suggestions?”
“Rocco,” said Imogen. “Those knees definitely remind me of St Rocco.”
Imogen and I became acquainted with St Rocco when we attended the Catholic Digital Media Conference in Sydney last August. There he was in the garden of Mary McKillop Place, his tunic hoisted up to reveal his knees. Apparently he is pointing to an open sore on his leg caused by the plague.
So I named Thomas’ bear Rocco, after the saintly protector against the plague and other contagious diseases.
Another Christmas, another bear. Another birthday, another bear. Another for-no-particular-reason bear… The bears keep multiplying. What should we do?
The answer arrived yesterday, in a quiet moment.
“Would you like one of Thomas’ bears?” I asked Gemma-Rose. Her eyes opened wide. She smiled. “You can choose whichever one you want for your very own.”
"Oh I'd like one of the big ones!"
Yes, I am going to give Thomas’ bears away to family and friends. I hope they will welcome them.
“I’ll take photos of all the bears before I give them away,” I tell the girls, “so I’ll remember them. And I’ll write Thomas’ name and birth date and the bear’s name too, on a label and attach it to the bear.”
I must admit I feel a bit sad at the thought of Thomas’ collection being broken up. Most of the bears will be leaving home. I won't be able to cuddle them as I remember. But at the same time, I feel excited. Where will the bears end up? Will they make others smile? Joy is meant to be shared, isn't it? I can't keep it all for myself.
Would you smile if you received a Thomas bear?
Thank you to all the readers who left suggestions to the bear problem, on my Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page last year. I appreciated your input and I'm sure the solution is really only a modification of all those ideas.