Note: You may have seen Pickle’s Christmas Wonder in the Bethlehem Writers Group anthology - A Christmas Sampler. Here is an earlier version that includes the elves, Hollydo, and Hollygo. You might find errors. It hasn’t been proofread. - WMW
Pickle’s Christmas Wonder
by Will Wright
Hollydo the elf held a bunch of cloth, stuffing and plastic in her hand. That was all she had until she pulled the last stitch to tighten the last seam.
That’s when it became a teddybear.
“Hollydo!” shouted the elf (which was how she got her name), “you are now a bear and your name is Pickle.”
The little bear opened his eyes and looked at the elf. “That’s right,” said the bear. “I’m Pickle!”
Hollydo put pickle on a Hollygo’s cart with the other new bears.
“I’m Pickle,” said Pickle.
“I’m Thistle,” said Thistle.
“I’m Taffy,” said Taffy.
“I’m Bowser,” said Bowser.
“Bowser?” said Pickle, Thistle and Taffy, because as even new bears know, Bowser is usually a dog’s name.
“That’s who I am!” said Bowser.
“Hollygo!” said Hollygo (which is how he got his name) and he rolled the cart to bear school.
The North Pole has the finest bear school in the world and Pickle, Thistle, Taffy and Bowser were very excited to learn all about being a bear – not just a regular bear, but a Christmas bear! Buddy Bear was the teacher of bear school and he had been a Christmas bear when he was new. Santa made Buddy the teacher because his friend Lynn read to him every story there was about Santa and the North Pole.
You see, bears, no matter how smart they get, still need their people to read to them.
Pickle, Thistle, Taffy and Bowser learned how to bring sweet dreams and to keep the bed bugs from biting. They learned how to turn a smile into a giggle and a giggle into a laugh. They learned how to soak up tears and turn them into love.
And they learned about the Christmas wonder.
“Every year,” said Buddy, “each boy or girl who believes in Santa gets one Christmas wonder.”
“Is it a warm feeling?” asked Pickle.
“Is it a funny tickle?” asked Thistle.
“Is it a happy sigh?” asked Taffy.
“Is it something to eat?” asked Bowser.
“It can be anything,” said Buddy, “though I never heard of one that was something to eat. As Christmas bears, it is our job to wish the best Christmas wonder possible for our boy or girl.”
“How do we do that?” asked Pickle.
“We do it,” said Buddy, “by wishing what’s best for our boy or girl, no matter what – even if it’s not good for us.”
“Even if it’s not good for us?” said Pickle, Thistle, Taffy and Bowser.
“A bear is unselfish,” said Buddy. “That’s why Christmas bears love so much.”
It was the hardest thing that Pickle learned at bear school. How do you want something for someone else even if it’s not good for you? He almost didn’t take his pie ursa bearra diploma at graduation.
“Don’t worry,” said Buddy Bear. “The secret is love.”
Hollysort led the new graduates to Santa’s great hall where there were many toys, puzzles, candies and treats waiting for Santa to decide where each gift would go.
“Hollysort!” said the elf (which is how she got her name). “Today you learn the name the boy or girl you will go to on Christmas day!”
Thistle went to a girl named Chrissy. Taffy went to a girl name Danielle. Bowser went to a boy named Spike. Pickle was happy for his friends but was sad to see them go.
“Now,” said Santa, “This next list if for a boy named Willie. Willie is three years old and he believes in me.”
“That means he gets a Christmas wonder,” said Pickle to the candy cane next to him.
“Shush!” said the candy cane. “I want to hear this!”
“On Christmas,” said Santa, “Willie will get Pepper the candy cane, Loopy the lollypop, Pickle the bear and Reginald the fire truck.”
“My boy’s name is Willie!” said Pickle.
“He’s my boy too,” said the candy cane who had shushed him before. “But Willie’s getting a fire truck. That just means I’ll end up in a candy dish and you’ll collect dust under the bed.”
Pickle didn’t think that Pepper was very friendly.
“Oh don’t mind him!” said a lollypop behind him. “He’s just an old stick in the mint.” The lollypop hopped over Pickles’ head and then balanced on his stick. “I’m Loopy,” he said.
“I’m Pickle,” said Pickle. “It is very nice to meet you.”
“I wouldn’t know,” said Loopy. “I’ve never met me before.”
Pickle decided that Loopy was a little confusing, but he was a very friendly lollypop.
“Clang clang clang,”
There was a big red toy fire truck behind Pickle. It was one of the biggest toys in Santa’s hall – even bigger than most of the tricycles. “My name is Reginald,” said the fire truck. “If your name’s Pickle, hop up on my running board and hang on!”
Pickle did just that and Reginald sped off so fast that Pickle’s cloth ears folded back in the wind.
“You’ve got a good grip,” said Reginald. “That’s a good thing, cause I think we’ll be doing this a lot when we get to Willie’s house. Clang, clang, clang!”
“Hey! where’s the fire?” Pepper grumbled as they circled around him.
“That’s not much of a Yule spirit, Pepper,” said Loopy. “Are you sure you’re a candy cane and not a mis-shaped sour ball?”
Pickle very much liked riding on Reginald. He was a very fine fire truck, so big and fast and pretty. “Willie is very fortunate to get such a wonderful toy,” said Pickle
“Yeah,” said Loopy hopping up and down on his stick. “Willie will be crazy about him. He’ll be Willie’s Christmas wonder.”
“Yeah,” said Pepper. “Willie will wonder why Santa even bothered bringing us.”
“Douse that kind of talk!” said Reginald. “Christmas is supposed to be fun. Willie will have fun with all of us!”
“But Loopy is right,” said Pickle. “You’re sure to be Willie’s Christmas wonder.”
“I know you can sure lick me,” said Loopy.
“I don’t care what’s Willie’s Christmas wonder,” said Reginald. “I just hope that he likes to have fun – and go real fast! Clang, clang, clang!”
Hollypak, the elf walked up with a big sack.
“Hollypak!” said the elf, (which is how he got his name.) “It’s time to go in Santa’s sack.”
“The sack’s too small,” said Pepper. “Reginald won’t even fit in there by himself.”
“It’s a magic sack,” said Hollypak, and he picked up Reginald and threw him inside. Reginald didn’t stick out at all, but Pickle could hear, “clang, clang, clang!” coming from inside.
Pickle thought that Santa’s sack would be dark and crowded, but it wasn’t like that at all. There were more toys than he could count inside and everyone was singing Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells. Pickle found Thistle, Taffy and Bowser, and the bears sang in four-part harmony like they learned at bear school.
When they got to Willie’s house, Santa pulled Pickle, Pepper, Loopy and Reginald out of his sack. He hung Pepper on the Christmas tree. Then he put a big bow around Reginald together with a sign that said, “to Willie from Santa,” and put him in the middle of the room. Then he put Loopy and Pickle side-by-side at the top of Willie’s stocking.
“That looks just about right,” said Santa.
Pickle looked at the room. Reginald was so big and shiny. Willie would never even notice Loopy and him at the top of the stocking.
Santa clucked Pickle under the chin and it made the bear laugh.
“That’s better,” said Santa. “Now remember Pickle, you have a job to do.”
“I’m supposed to wish for Willie to have the best Christmas wonder.”
“That’s right,” said Santa.
“But Santa,” said Pickle, “Reginald will be Willie’s Christmas wonder and Reginald said he doesn’t even care. He just wants to have fun and go fast.”
“That’s Reginald’s job,” said Santa. “But Christmas bears have a different job and you’re a Christmas bear. Remember what Buddy taught you and you’ll do fine.”
So instead of feeling sorry for himself, Pickle started wishing. He didn’t worry about anything else – even if he ended up under the bed collecting dust. All that mattered was that Willie have a great Christmas wonder. It didn’t matter if that wonder was a funny tickle, a happy sigh, a warm feeling or something to eat. It didn’t matter if the wonder was a big shiny fast fire truck that went clang, clang, clang. What mattered was that Willie’s Christmas wonder was a wonderful wonder.
So all night long, Pickle wished and wished and wished some more, until sunlight came through the window and he heard little feet on the stairs.
“Oh boy!” said Reginald, “we’re going to have fun!”
“Fun?” said Pepper, “Like having a Christmas tree light melt my stripes all night?”
“Oh look,” said Loopy. “He just came around the corner. He’s so cute! I’m a sucker for him already.”
And Pickle looked across the room at three-year-old Willie with his bright eyes and curly hair and something happened inside. Pickle’s little bear heart started beating and wouldn’t stop.
And each little beat said, “I love you.”
Willie ran across the room, jumped over the big new fire truck and pulled Pickle out of the stocking.
“You smiled at me,” said Willie. “Mommy, the teddy-bear smiled at me.”
“That’s because it’s Christmas,” said Willie’s mother, whose name was Lynn. “Wonders happen at Christmas – especially with Christmas bears.”
That night, Willie’s mother, whose name was Lynn looked in on her little boy. He was hugging Pickle the bear tight. A silly lollypop looked down at the two from the bedpost. A shiny new fire truck was resting at the foot of the bed. It needed the rest. The truck had gone fast and had fun all day long.
Willie’s mother, whose name was Lynn went back down stairs and gathered up the candy canes and put them in a candy dish – even one whose stripes looked like they were melted and then she sat down and put her head on the chest of her oldest friend. She listened for his heart.
Each little beat said, “I love you.”
“Did you have a good time with Santa at the North Pole?” she asked.
“I did,” said Buddy, “but it’s good to be home.”
“It’s good to have you home,” said Willie’s mother.
“And thank you for my little boy’s Christmas wonder.”