It all begins with a story.
Once upon a time, we were in Kohls and my son spotted a simple purple stuffed rabbit. He wanted it. I said no. He had a tantrum and I said I wouldn’t put up with that type of behavior and dragged him out of the store. At the time, he had about one hundred stuffed animals and he didn’t need another one.
But purple bunny stuck in his head. He asked about that bunny every day for three full weeks. And finally I surprised him. I went out with my coupon and bought it. That bunny became one of his most important items.
We’ve had purple bunny for five years now. He’s ragged, tired, and his ears don’t stick up any longer. His fur is worn. He is well loved and exactly like Rabbit from The Velveteen Rabbit. He is real. He goes to school with my son, and has become the second grade mascot.
My son declared purple bunny’s birthday in June so when I visited the classroom for a reading day, the kids asked if we could have a birthday party for purple bunny at the end of the year. The teacher agreed, stating through this animal, the kids created wonderful adventures. My son would dream up stories about where purple bunny travelled – from the high seas as a Pirate to a karate champion, there were no limits.
So, I agreed. And this week I went into the classroom with a big chocolate cake and candles. The words Happy Birthday Purple Bunny were scrawled in purple. The children sang to him – seems he’s ten years old. And the joy and laughter on their faces was priceless.
They gave the bunny gifts. Made paper hats, and created envelopes with money. Purple bunny made out with over $1,000. And as I spoke to my son’s teacher, we agreed that sometimes a bit of the mystical and innocence of children is key to learning. There are only so many standardized tests we can cram down their throats, or pull apart every sentence of a book until the magic is gone. We had purple bunny reading day, where everyone brought in their fave animals and a fave book and we read. And as I looked at my son’s face, with his two front teeth finally grown in, his round face lit up with a big grin that is his trademark, I knew these years were priceless. They slipped away so fast, and damned if I wasn’t going to enjoy every last moment of it.
So, yes, we had a party for a stuffed bunny. And it was the best day ever, as my son said.
Once again, I am reminded that everything begins with a story. How we purchased purple bunny. How out of numerous animals he became special. How he affected our family by giving us love and laughs and memories.
This is how are families are created. And our books. That germ of an idea that seems simple can become priceless. Anything can be magical and mystical with a little love, creativity, and thought.
I wish that for everyone today.