One of my favorite books of all time is “The Velveteen Rabbit.” If you have never read it, you should really find it and read it to your children, and your grandchildren, and even just to yourself. It is such a beautiful story about true love and friendship, and it helps us realize what it means for all of us to be “real.”
“’The Velveteen Rabbit,’ also called ‘How Toys Become Real,’ is a children’s novel written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. First published in 1922, the story actually was Williams’ first and most popular children’s book. If you’ve never read it before, the story is about the journey of a toy velveteen rabbit learning about love and what it means to become real; a story that reflects the human pilgrimage we all take to discover and hold onto our authentic selves.” (Find the complete article HERE)
As the Velveteen Rabbit finds himself struggling with understanding what love means and how he can become a “real” rabbit, his friend the Skin Horse explains it to him in a touching and insightful way.
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” (excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams)
Perhaps as one gets a bit older and all of the “pretty” begins to fade, you begin to wonder what is really important in the big picture of life. Even though I discovered The Velveteen Rabbit as a young mom as I was searching for books to read to my young children, I’ve also felt a connection to the notion of what it takes for us to be really, truly “real.” Especially in a world where it is challenging at best to figure out who and what is real and true, in a time when social media colors all of our impressions of the world around as and the people we “meet” along the journey of life . . . it is so important to realize that you, too, can become “real” just by living your life and loving the ones God brings into your little world.
For the Velveteen Rabbit, it took a while for him to understand that being loved comes in time, and it often happens after you are no longer the prettiest, shiniest, or fanciest “toy” on the shelf. It comes from being a bit tattered around the edges, having lived a life filled with adventure, love, and friendship. So, here’s to everyone of us who knows what it means when . . . most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
If you haven’t already, please read “The Velveteen Rabbit,” even if you just read it to yourself. It will remind you that YOU, too, are beautiful no matter where your journey has taken you. I hope you have a joyous and blessed Christmas, and never forget how to be “real.” Just be YOU and you will be loved!
Here’s a great place to buy your copy of The Velveteen Rabbit . . . . from Vintage Mama’s Book Shoppe!