Tomorrow, January 18th, is Winnie-the-Pooh Day. It is actually the birthday of Pooh’s creator, A. A. Milne, who was born on this day in 1882. His son, Christopher Robin Milne, was born in 1920. The first Pooh book was published in 1926 and was simply titled Winnie the Pooh. The second book, The House at Pooh Corner, followed it in 1928. A. A. Milne’s son and his stuffed animals inspired the stories. Christopher Robin’s stuffed bear was originally named Edward, but was renamed after two of his favorite animals at the London Zoo. “Winnie” was a Canadian black bear and “Pooh” was a swan. E. H. Shepard, who took inspiration from his own son’s teddy bear, Growler, illustrated both books.
I received my Winnie-the-Pooh as a small baby and by the time that I could talk I had renamed her “Pooh-leen”. Of course, I wanted a girl bear. She slept in my bed with me every night and my mom helped me sew outfits for her. She was so well loved that she lost her eyebrows and my mom had to sew her mouth back on. She went to slumber parties, sleep-away camp, and eventually she accompanied me to college. Yes, that’s right, I said college. She still had a prime place on my bed until I got married, when she was finally relegated to a shelf in the guest room (never a box, I just couldn’t). My oldest daughter has now inherited her and sleeps with her every night. My husband has tried to rename the bear “Poutine”, after that delicious Canadian dish with french fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Presley doesn’t think it’s very funny. Pooh-leen is no longer allowed to leave the house due to her advanced age, so she is unable to accompany Presley to sleepovers or slumber parties. But I may consider college, we’ll just have to wait and see. After all, she has to be around for my grandchildren to enjoy, just like A. A. Milne’s timeless stories. And if you too had a beloved Winnie-the-Pooh as a child, take him/her out, dust him/her off, and wish him/her a Happy Winnie-the-Pooh Day!