A classic tale from my childhood, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams spins a bittersweet tale of devotion. It has been reprinted many times since it was originally published in 1922, and it has been adapted for film, too.
In the story, a toy rabbit is given to a boy for Christmas. The rabbit is lost in the shuffle of holiday presents, and later snubbed by the mechanical toys. The Skin Horse befriends the rabbit and tells him he will be real when he is loved by a child. That line always resonates with me since I am someone who has always had a pile of beloved stuffed animals that are real to me.
The boy does, indeed, come to love the rabbit. They become inseparable. When the boy gets sick with scarlet fever, the rabbit is there to comfort him. Of course, once the boy is better all his bedding, and the rabbit, must be burned to prevent the spread of disease. It seems a great betrayal for the adults to do this to a toy that is real, but they are afraid of the disease.
The ending is sweet and magical. The nursery fairy comes and makes the rabbit indeed real, so he can hop in the garden with the flesh and blood wild rabbits. He, of course, returns to watch the boy grow up. It is what every child wants to believe of their favorite stuffed animals, that they are real and they love you back.
Tired of the Grinch? Already seen ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ this year? Pick up a copy of this old favorite and give yourself a treat.