In Praise of Winnie the Pooh

How a silly old Bear shaped my world


I don’t recall a time in my life when Winnie The Pooh wasn’t there. My favorite Aunt was even called “Heff,” after my brothers, years before I came along, declared her to be as “big as a Heffalump.” I was in my twenties when I finally realized that this wasn’t her real name, and that it could have been a hurtful slight, but we loved her fiercely.

All my life, I have considered myself to have an ability to express myself with words while always maintaining that when I’m incapable of saying the words that truly embody the sentiment, love, or emotion I wish to convey, I turn to Pooh.

On some level, of course, I know I really turn to A.A Milne — the author of the Pooh stories — but in my heart, it is that silly old bear stuffed with fluff that encompasses all I feel. He has taught generations of children how to play, love, share, and relate to those around them.

You only have to look at the plethora of memes we see almost daily on social media to be aware of how relevant this childhood friend and companion remains. From raising awareness about introverts prone to depression in the form of a beloved gloomy donkey, to encouraging us to love and accept others because they have pure hearts and kindness running through their veins like our cherished bear of “very little brain,” the Pooh stories have so many important lessons.

At various stages throughout my life, I have seen parts of myself in these characters. I’ve fought depression (and won), considered myself to be kind and loving, but not very brave or clever, and in moments when my heart was in the right place but my ego wasn’t, I have understood that my longing to teach and help can come off as being like Owl.

When I was a nineteen-year-old nanny, one of the children I took care of saved her pocket money to buy me my own Winnie the Pooh book so she wouldn’t have to listen to it so often and could hear other stories! She’s now a mother of two, and she reads those same stories to her children, who are as entranced and enchanted by them as we were — and as I’m sure endless future generations will be.

Such sentiments as “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger and smarter than you think” will forever soothe those in need. After all, who doesn’t long for friends as different, loyal, and supportive as those that Christopher Robin has?

As a story-loving self proclaimed introvert, I consider some books to be my closest friends and most loyal support system, and none has remained more constant than the tales from the Hundred Acre Wood that entertained me as a child, and only seem to be more valuable and meaningful now.

If I had to relinquish all books but one, with my hand on my heart I can promise I would cling to my favourite childhood bear. I believe his lovingly innocent way of viewing life is a gift to the world.

Thank you, A.A Milne. From the bottom of my childlike joyful heart, and on behalf of all those that have loved you for writing stories for Christopher. My heart and my imagination would be less without your contribution.

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