photo of my stuffed elephant

photo: Martha Dallas

I’m excited to have brought a special guest with me today. [Hold up stuffed elephant.] This elephant was my favorite stuffed animal when I was a really little girl… so little, in fact, that I don’t even remember. … [turning to face elephant] … but you [to elephant] do.

[using special voice for elephant]: Oh, I surely do! I remember that time well! Martha, you loved me so hard and cuddled me so much that my eyes began to fall out. See? One of them is just hanging by a string!

And you carried me around by my trunk.

[demonstating] Like this?

Yes, like that…ooch, it hurts a little… I’m not used to it anymore!

Oh, sorry! [change grip]

Anyway, yes, you carried me by my trunk around the house and outside… wherever you went, and my feet dragged on the ground and my felt got all worn and your mom had to patch them up so many times… and still, the stuffing’s coming out and a wire is poking through….

And I went through the laundry so many times, I can’t count! And still I’m all grimy with stains….

I used to feel really embarrassed about how I looked until one day when you and I heard the story of The Velveteen Rabbit and I learned in that story what had happened to me. I learned that I had become… REAL.

Real is not how you’re made; it is something that happens to you, bit by bit over time. You become real when a child loves you very, very, very much. When they REALLY love you, more than just a toy to play with, you become real to that child, even if others think you’re just a ratty old stuffed animal. And once you become real, you’re real for always.

[Thoughtfully, to the elephant]: Mmmm… it’s like, over time, when we really love someone, we come to see them less with our eyes, and more with our hearts….

Hmmm. I think that’s true. And you know what else?

What?

Loving someone into real is not just something that happens between children and people like me. It can happen with anyone. Anyone can love someone else into real.

Mmmm. I think that’s true too. And I’m so glad you could join us today.

Me too.

***

Props: I used my old stuffed elephant. You would personalize your version of this, using a stuffed animal you hopefully still have (its tangible presence makes a big difference).

This Reflection references the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, which you can read here.

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