Jeremy realized that the bear who was blowing bubbles at him was speaking perfect English as well. At first he thought the voice was coming from someplace else--some hidden speaker maybe--but speakers don't carry on conversations with people.
The boy had sneaked away while his mom shopped for presents. He had already made the rounds of the big department stores in the mall, drawn to the lights and the glitter of each Christmas display like a heat-seeking missile. There was so much to see--the English winter displays with their miniature pubs, storefronts, and tiny skaters that seemed to move under their own power, and the electric tree ornaments that whirred and hummed and clickety-clacked as they came alive to enact some charming holiday scene. Yes, it DID seem like everything was alive, and though a mechanical bear sitting in a Christmas tree blowing bubbles into the air was certainly unique, it was still within the realm of possibility...but a bubble blowing bear that could TALK was something else again.
"I was beginning to wonder," said the bear, though its lips did not move.
Jeremy's eyes made a sweep of the store to see if anyone was near--someone who might be playing a trick on him, but the other shoppers were too far away. "Wonder about what?" he finally replied.
"If you'd ever arrive!" The bear kept dipping the tiny plastic wand attached to its paw into this little bowl, then lifting the device to its face to whoosh the bubbles into the air.
"Why were you waiting for me?" Jeremy said.
"I guess I should say, more accurately, someone LIKE you--a person who comes alive at Christmas time...just like me."
"Yeah, but I feel all alone...I wish that people-"
"Most people don't get it, my boy. They've 'grown up' and gotten so far away from the original pure state--which is nothing more than the ability to see through the eyes of a child--they don't know who they are anymore."
Jeremy thought: What are the shoppers going to think when they hear me talking to a bear? No sooner had the question popped into his head than it was answered.
"Ours in a mind to mind communication, Jeremy, and in case you haven't noticed, your lips are not moving either. We can do that because we are so perfectly tuned in to each other--on the same wavelength so to speak...by the way, you can call me Thaddeus."
The boy began to think about the people who go through the motions during the holidays, then revert back to their old cynical ways the rest of the year. "If people really cared," he said, "the Christmas spirit would last all year round."
Just then a SUPER-big bubble alighted onto the tip of his nose and Jeremy looked at it cross-eyed for a moment before it popped and disappeared into thin air.
"I hate to burst your-ah- what I mean is, that's a mistake in thinking a lot of people make. Everything in the universe exists because it has a counterpart...good implies evil, happy implies sad--we could no more have Christmas all year round than you could eat banana creme pie every meal for the rest of your life and still love it as you do!"
Jeremy thought it was pretty cool that even though Thaddeus used some big words, he somehow understood everything that was being said...and the bear even knew what his favorite dessert was! "I guess that's what makes the holidays so special then," he said.
"Not everyone is like you and me. Still, it's the time of year when the best of what we are shines through. Remember that...THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE. Would you believe that even the scrooges forget themselves when they see me? They do--if only for a moment--but in that one instant when they're scratching their heads and trying to figure out how I do it, they've regained their childish sense of wonder and delight...is there more that any of us can do than to try to provide such moments for those around us?"
"Uh, Thaddeus...just how DO you do it? Blow the bubbles I mean."
"Hey kid, there are some things that even I can't tell you. Trade secret, ya know."
Jeremy glanced at a nearby clock. "Oh no," he cried. "My mom's gonna be worried. Wait--please wait Thaddeus--I'm going to get her and bring her back to meet you!"
"Just a moment, Jeremy--you must consider-"
But the boy was already gone, plunging through the holiday shoppers, giddy with excitement and chanting over and over to himself: THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE! THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE!
His mother--who had essentially been dragged up a flight of stairs and half the length of the mall--now stood in front of the tree where Thaddeus was perched, spouting bubbles into the air in darling mechanical bear fashion.
"Here she is--go ahead and say something," Jeremy urged with his mind.
But there was only silence, and the boy's heart sank.
Then the woman's mouth curved into a wide grin and her eyes began to sparkle like twin stars on a crisp and clear December night. "Well, isn't that just the cleverest idea you've ever seen," she said. "Next thing you know the darn thing will start talking too."
Then she gave her son an odd look. "What's that, Jeremy?"
"I didn't say nothing, mom."
"That's funny...for a moment I thought I heard someone whisper, 'Merry Christmas.'"