When I was visiting my mother in Texas recently, I was marveling at her tree filled with stuffed bears, each one with its own crocheted sweater. I asked if she had made them, but she said, “No,” as if making that many bears would be a crazy thing to do. But, my heart and mind drifted back to a time when I was very young and experienced what felt like a Christmas miracle. I had asked for a purple teddy bear from Santa and was sure that he was listening to me and would deliver it. I’m not sure how I knew, but I just felt it would happen, like so many of my childhood dreams. When I came downstairs on Christmas morning, I first looked at the presents to see which wrapped box might be hiding my purple prize. My mother was nearby and softly said, “Look up, Charlie.” There, sitting on a branch of the Christmas tree was a purple jointed teddy bear smiling back at me. I rushed over to it and gently pulled it from its perch on the tree. While I was still hugging it, I noticed another bear sitting on a branch nearby. My eyes grew wide as I raced around the tree realizing that it was literally covered in bears of all different shapes and colors. It was an incredible experience and, to this day, I’m still not sure what was actually under the tree that year.
I’m not totally sure of the final number of bears I collected from that tree, but to me it felt like a million. It was like one little wish had somehow multiplied and become an impossible dream come true. But, even then, I knew that though Santa had shown up with the original gift, it was my mother who had made it something truly magical. Perhaps there wasn’t much under the tree that year. There were times when finances were a bit challenged back then. But, if anything had changed beneath the tree, I certainly didn’t notice. I was too caught up in the wonder and joy smiling at me from all of those branches. Soon, I had a cast of the most unique teddy bears I’d ever seen, and each one was waiting for its name and to have its story invented. I was in heaven! There are those moments in life that sparkle a bit more than others. The ones that make a memory so vibrant and incredible that it burns a place in your heart, never to be forgotten. There’s a lot during my time on this planet that I’ve managed to forget, but that moment is one that I’ll cherish until the day I die.
Today, it’s moments like these that remind me there’s always something lovely to be found in life no matter what is happening. Always a glimmer of hope. Whether it’s a truly stressful day or one that simply didn’t seem to run according to plan, I manage to smile no matter what. And as I head toward another Christmas Eve, I know that very little has changed after all of these years. Though I’ll receive some of the gifts I asked for, it’s the ones I never expected that will warm my heart the most. Often, just little things that don’t cost very much to acquire, but create a wealth of happiness in the giving. My days are getting busy as I prepare to take a bit of time off work, and with it comes a feeling of hectic stress. But, as ever, I’ve learned to recreate my own magic as an adult by sitting down to sketch something each and every day. My mind relaxes for the first time that day and lets me travel back to less complicated moments. The kind that made me the hopeful dreamer I still am today, as I reminisce about that time I got 20 teddy bears for Christmas.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Leaf Green, Quinacridone Red, Vermillion, Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!