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Thankful for Teddies: A cornucopia of Thanksgiving critters drops by for dinner! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 18 November 2013 11:19
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is known for its clever costuming and easy-to-send greetings. Here is a pair of their ursine Pilgrims.
“Bonnie the Pilgrim” is a bear miss designed by Gund.
Gund also manufactured the male Pilgrim counterpart, “Blake.”
For 2003, the Herrington Teddy Bear Club presented this Pilgrim.
Thanksgiving would not have been the occasion it was if not for the friendship and peaceful camaraderie exhibited by the first Americans, the Native Americans, shown by these retired bears.
Build-a-Bear Workshop always has offerings for its devoted customers. Here is a lovely Native American cub.
Autumnal bears and critters often complement many a Thanksgiving table setting. Boyds created this very cheery “Holden T. Punkinbeary.”
“Tom Turkey” is memorable as a Pilgrim sir.
A comical version of the holiday centerpiece: a Ganz rendering of a turkey.
HF manufactured this duo of brotherly turkeys.
“Li’l Stuffing Turkey” embodies all that is scrumptious about the Thanksgiving feast.
“Hello Kitty” didn’t just fix the meal; she became it! The feline feels every morsel of her dinner as she physically turns into a reversible turkey doll.
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is known for its clever costuming and easy-to-send greetings. Here is a pair of their ursine Pilgrims.
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By and large, we Americans are a happy people. Sure, we’re not breaking into song and tap-dancing to the corner like cast members of an old-fashioned MGM musical. But for the most part, we are all more similar to the folks who populated “Bye Bye Birdie” than the bedraggled masses in “Les Mis.”

Still, for all we have to be grateful about, Thanksgiving doesn’t rank as one of the nation’s most popular holidays. Christmas is first and Halloween is second. Fourth of July and Thanksgiving tie for third, depending upon the time of the year that the poll is taken.

Yes, July 4 is a great event, honoring the founding of the nation by a group of visionaries who boldly declared their independence from Great Britain. Still, I’m a purist at heart. I’m not a Puritan, but I do like the whole story behind the first Thanksgiving meal. I’m especially touched by the way two potentially warring factions assembled together and celebrated a year of prosperity and peace. They shared the fruits of their labor—literally—and the game that they hunted. Throughout my childhood, these Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors symbolized the notion of cooperation, mutual respect, and the sincere offering of thank-yous to a Higher Authority.

I’m not quite certain how or if the Thanksgiving story is taught anymore in schools. My children go to private school, so their curriculum doesn’t fully mirror their public school peers’. I know that when my son first entered the school system, he was in public school and Thanksgiving wasn’t really taught. Images of it popped up on his math homework or on his coloring pages. He would be asked to add up turkeys for arithmetic or color ships for art. There was no real instruction about the Pilgrims and their Native American benefactors.

It would be odd to live in a world where an official national holiday that urges us to be thankful—that nudges us to list the reasons why we are grateful—became a vestige of the past. I’ve always seen this holiday as a twofold one—we assemble together with family and friends and honor personal milestones, chat about reasons to be happy. It’s also the meal that we eat to approximate the feast, not famine, that these brave settlers found in this unknown (to them) world. It was a leap of faith to board a ship and face uncharted waters for an uncertain future. It’s a voyage that we should all be happy that the Pilgrims made.

In the plush world, there are autumnal bears to be found, and there are certainly specific ones that salute Pilgrims, Native Americans, and even the poor ill-fated turkeys. Many of these bears and plush pals only come out for a couple weeks a year. They might show up in a collector’s dining room at the start of November and then shuffle away before the calendar turns to December.

That’s the lot in life of a holiday critter. As cute and as engaging as they might be, their time amongst us is very limited and very keyed into the home-decorating theme.

Perhaps a turkey toy can hang around until the New Year, arguing that many folks dine on turkey for Christmas and New Year’s Day. However, many a hostess would have her feathers ruffled if there was a stuffed turkey protruding from her sideboard on any day other than Thanksgiving.

I have to admire the artists and the companies that fashion these Thanksgiving characters. They know that their display life pretty much lasts between the opening of the cranberry sauce tins and the wrapping up of the last hunk of pumpkin pie. Still, these slices of Americana are a bright spot for me during Thanksgiving time.

I like to see the critters garbed in Mayflower wear, dressed as proud tribesmen, or sporting stiff, starched collars and fanned-out turkey tails.

Thanksgiving is a time to be publicly thankful. Rather than silently feeling grateful during the year, we have the chance to tell our loved ones why we have gratitude.

I’d like to kick off the public remarks by saying how grateful I am that I get to work with such an amazing group of people at Jones Publishing and how thankful I am that teddy bears are still a joyous part of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!