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In Which Pooh Hunts for the Meaning of Christmas

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There was great excitement in the Hundred Acre Wood, though no one knew exactly what it was that they were so excited about.  However, that was before Pooh received the letter.  It came in the post.  Or at least, he said it was posted.  So Piglet came over to see.

“You’re quite right, Pooh,” he said, looking at the carefully folded piece of paper that was firmly fixed to the door by a drawing pin.  “It is posted.”

“I said it was,” Pooh pointed out.  He took the pin out very carefully, since it was sharp on the end that was stuck into the wood.  Then he put it away safely in a drawer lest he might sit on it by accident.  After this exercise of his few brains, he felt quite exhausted and took out a jar of honey so that he might fortify himself with a spoonful or two.  Meanwhile, Piglet turned the folded paper over and over in his hands, looking at it from all angles.

“I think it opens,” he said finally.

“Do you think there’s something inside?”

“There could be.”  Piglet considered the matter for a while.  “It would make sense,” he said finally.  “At this end, there’s a bit that’s stuck down, and a bit at the other end that’s stuck down too; and there’s a sort of flap, and that’s sealed too.  I don’t see why you’d do that unless there’s something inside that you don’t want to fall out.”

“Or get out,” said Pooh, with a worried look.

It then occurred to both of them that quite the most sensible thing they could do would be to go and ask Owl what he thought.  As it was quite cold out, this required bundling up.  Piglet still had on his scarf; but Pooh had taken off his buttoned vest, for Christopher Robin had told him once that, if you wear it indoors, then you won’t feel the benefit when you go out.  So, as he was going out, he put it back on.  Then they left.

When Owl saw the folded paper, he knew immediately that it was an emvellope.  “And inside there will be a letter,” he said importantly.  “That’s what emvellopes are for, to send letters to people.  Then you tear it open to get the letter out.”

So Pooh tried to do this from one end; and Piglet tried it from the other end.  Finally, Owl suggested that they try the flap end.  This worked quite well; and the letter came out only a little bit torn.  It turned out to be another piece of paper.  On it were words, written with a pen.  Pooh held it up so that Owl could read it to them.

He peered at the letter, and then took it in one claw and held it up close where he could see it clearly.  He read it for some time, his beak moving a little as he worked out what it said.  “It’s from Christopher Robin,” he told them finally.  “He says he’s coming home for Chrissmas.”

“What’s a Crimsass?” asked Piglet.  But none of them knew.

“Let’s ask Eeyore,” suggested Pooh.  So off they went.

When they got to Eeyore’s house, they found him with his back turned to the wind.  Once they had gone round him to the other side so they could see him face to face, they asked him if he knew what Christopher Robin had written to Pooh about.  “It’s a thing called Crissamass,” Pooh said.  “But we don’t know what that means.”

“Are you sure you don’t mean Thistlemass?” asked Eeyore.

Not being sure what it was that they did mean to say, Pooh and Piglet decided it would be better not to answer.

“A mass of thistles,” said Eeyore wistfully.  “Wouldn’t that be something.  But not,” he added gloomily, “at this time of year.  It’s too cold.”

“Yes, it is,” agreed Piglet.  He tucked the ends of his scarf under his arms.  It would, he thought, be rather a good idea if they headed home now, back where it was warm.  Then again, he did want to know what Christopher Robin’s letter was all about.  Apart from coming home, that is (which was the most important thing).  He looked at Pooh, snug in his buttoned vest.  After that, he gave a little quiet sigh, just to himself, for he knew that he would never be able to persuade his friend to give up the quest for the meaning of … whatever-it-was.

I don’t think Christopher Robin is coming home for a mess of thistles,” declared Pooh.

Piglet had to agree that it was most unlikely.  Turning to each other, they each said at once, “Let’s go and ask Kanga and Roo what they think it means!”  So off the two of them went, and Eeyore with them.

When they arrived, they found Roo outside bouncing around with Tigger.  Neither of them was in any mood to stop long enough to be asked anything at all. So, leaving them to their games, the others went up to the door to ask Kanga what Crisselmas was.

“Thistlemass,” Eeyore corrected.

“You mean Crystalmass,” Kanga told them with great certainty.  “That’s a fancy sort of glass that’s been cut so it sparkles.”

“Like jools?” asked Eeyore.

“Quite like jewels, yes,” said Kanga.

Now that did sound more like the sort of thing that might appeal to Christopher Robin.  A jewel-hunt would be quite a fine way to spend an afternoon.  Or even two.  After all, the word “jewels” suggests that there is more than one, which is more Heffalumps than they had ever managed to catch.  That is to assume, of course, that they did find more than one jewel.  Or any, in fact.

“What’s a jool?” Pooh whispered to Piglet, who pretended not to hear.  It was clear to everyone, though, that Christopher Robin was coming home to have an adventure with them.  So that was all right, and all that mattered really. 

“It must be nearly time for tea,” said Pooh.  “A really good one, too.  Why don’t you all come along home with me?” 

However, Kanga didn’t think the excitement would be good for Roo.  And if he was not coming, it would probably be best if Tigger stayed home, too.  Eeyore decided that he wanted to go back to his own home, alone.  But Piglet’s house was very near to Pooh’s; so they would be both going the same way anyway.  So he accepted Pooh’s invitation, tucked his scarf even tighter round his neck, and joined his friend on the way home.

They sauntered along, thinking of honey (for Pooh) and acorns (for Piglet), and the pleasure of coming indoors out of the cold to a warm home.  After a while, Pooh began to sing.

Oh, home is sweet
Tum-te-dee
Where there’s heat
Tum-te-dee
And we can eat
Tum-te-dee
Tiddle-dah!

With a chum
Tum-te-dee
Home to come
Tum-te-dee
Bread and hon-
ee-de-dee
Diddle-dah!

“You changed it on that last bit,” Piglet pointed out.

“I wanted to finish the honey,” said Pooh.  Then he hoped that wasn’t actually true, for it would be a terribly rude thing to invite someone home for tea only to find that there were no pots left and the cupboard was bare.  However, he suddenly remembered having had a couple of spoonsful to fortify himself before they set out for Owl’s house with the letter.  He had put the pot back in the cupboard; and it had definitely still had honey in it then.  He had even remembered to wash up the spoon.

Along the way, they met Rabbit, off on his own business.  Though he stopped to say hello, he explained that he had no time to come to Pooh’s for tea, though he was sure it would be delicious.  He was about to hop off, when Pooh told him he had important news.

“Christopher Robin is coming home,” said Pooh.  “We’re going home to have honey—”

“And acorns,” put in Piglet.

“—to celebrate,” Pooh finished.  He gave Piglet a sharp glance, as if to tell him that interrupting is rude.  (At any rate, Christopher Robin says that it is.)

“I heard,” said Rabbit.  “Owl told me.  You got a letter, I understand.  Yes, it will be good to see Christopher Robin again.  Home for Christmas, I gather.  Well,” and he flicked his ears, “there are worse things than Christmas.  Speaking as a rabbit, I’m glad to say that I think I shan’t be there.  At least, I hope not.”

“I don’t understand,” said Pooh.

“That’s all right,” said Rabbit.  “You don’t need to.”  And with that he hopped off in the direction of his home.

The others continued on to Pooh’s house.  There they saw, with great surprise and joy, that Christoper Robin had beaten them to the door, and stood outside waiting for them.

“Christopher Robin!” cried Pooh.

“Christopher Robin!” cried Piglet.

They both rushed forward; and Christopher Robin knelt and gathered them into his arms for a hug.  “Oh, it is good to see you!” he cried.

“And now you’ll stay with us for ever and ever,” said Pooh firmly.

“Silly bear,” said Christopher Robin fondly.  “I can’t do that.  I have to go back to school as soon as the hols are over.  I’m only home for Christmas.”

“Whatever that is,” said Pooh grumpily.  “What do you want with a Christmas anyway, when you’ve got us?”

“We’ll put up decorations, and sing carols, and have a feast.  You’ll like it,” Christopher Robin assured them.  “A lot.”

Pooh thought about this for a little while, and finally decided that it probably was true.  Certainly the feast part. 

“And you’re here, with us,” put in Piglet.  “That’s important, too.”

“Yes,” said Pooh, and gave Christopher Robin an extra-special hug.  “That’s what Christmas is.”

“What do you mean?” asked Christopher Robin.

“Christmas is being home where you belong.”