Enjoy Hunny and Hopefulness on Winnie the Pooh Day
When it’s eleven o’clock this morning or thereabouts, I hope you’ll join me in a little something to revive ourselves. Bread, honey and, if you wish, some condensed milk will do nicely. Eating will help us with that eleven o’clockish feeling and simultaneously allow us to toast A.A. Milne on his January 18th birthday and, officially, Winnie the Pooh Day.
phrasal noun: that bodily sensation, which is similar to a Funny Feeling, occurring in the Late Morning, that lets you know it is Eleven O’clock, or very close to it.
“Kanga said very kindly, ‘Well, look in my cupboard, Tigger dear, and see what you’d like.”
…’Shall I look, too?’ said Pooh, who was beginning to feel a little eleven o’clockish. And he found a small tin of condensed milk….so he took it into a corner by itself and went with it to see that nobody interrupted it.” (The House at Pooh Corner, page 35)
This definition comes from The Pooh Dictionary by A.R. Melrose. It’s on my bookshelf alongside The World of Pooh (includes Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner). The latter was a gift when I was seven; the former purchased by me as an adult.
The World of Pooh
I’m confident that you have at least a nodding acquaintance with the characters of the Hundred Acre Woods. After all, Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books were immediate bestsellers when they were published in 1926 and 1928. They have been translated into over fifty languages and have never been out of print.
If you aren’t familiar with the books, you’ll certainly know the Disney characters. Disney purchased the rights to the characters in 1960 (and dropped the hyphens in Winnie’s name). Winnie the Pooh remains the second most popular of Disney characters, trumped only by Mickey Mouse.
It’s Not All Hunny and Harmony
Writers dream of the success experienced by A.A. Milne. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to have crafted characters so distinct that even today we might refer to a grouchy person as an Eeyore, or an irrepressible spirit as Tigger.
However, just as Dr. Seuss had his demons, A.A. Milne’s glittery success had a darker underbelly. Milne’s son, the real Christopher Robin, grew to resent Milne, claiming his father “had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders… and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son.”
The Winnie the Pooh fame felt at least somewhat empty to Milne as well. He was never again considered a serious author for adults, despite the fact that Pooh was preceded by a very successful career that included seven novels, five nonfiction books, 34 plays and many short stories and articles.
Winnie the Pooh as career killer extended to illustrator E.H. Shepard. Shepard, like Milne, had worked for the satirical magazine, Punch. After illustrating the Winnie the Pooh books, Shepard saw an end to his former work as a political cartoonist and, before his death, expressed regret at being involved with “that silly old bear.”
Milne tried to be philosophical when not everyone loved the books that had destroyed his chosen career. In his 1939 memoir It’s Too Late Now, he wrote — “It is inevitable that a book that has had very large sales should become an object of derision to critics and columnists.”
Derision indeed. In one review, Dorothy Parker described Winnie the Pooh and Piglet humming in the forest and then wrote, “Oh darn–there I’ve gone and given away the plot.”
What to Do on Winnie the Pooh Day
These stories of heartache and dissatisfaction sadden me. I loved Winnie the Pooh when I was young, and really wish that the author’s life had been idyllic as I’d imagined. But rather than dwell on Milne’s experiences, I’m going to engage in a bit of self-care by recalling my childhood enjoyment and by honouring Milne and his friends on Winnie the Pooh Day.
I hope you will join me. In addition to enjoying honey at eleven, on Winnie the Pooh Day you might want to:
Take a Quiz
Tigger is my favourite character. I love his bounciness, his happy, goofy energy. However, according to this Buzzfeed quiz, my personality is more like that of Owl. True, I think, except for the part about being scatterbrained. That’s definitely not me.
Then I tried the Zimbio quiz and I’m Kanga. She wasn’t even on my favourite characters list.
The Playbuzz quiz tells me I’m Winnie the Pooh, probably because I opted for sweets as my preferred snack.
And the Brainfall quiz, which I answer as if I were a teenager, tells me I’m Rabbit.
I learn two things from this experience: 1. Quiz construction is not an exact science. And 2. Winnie the Pooh is still very popular.
Read a Book
There are four books in the original Winnie the Pooh series. Milne began with Winnie-the-Pooh followed by The House at Pooh Corner. Those two books, as mentioned earlier, are also combined into one volume titled The World of Pooh.
The other two books are volumes of poems. One volume is When We Were Very Young; the other is Now We Are Six. The two poetry collections are also combined into one volume, titled The World of Christopher Robin.
If you don’t have ready access to any of the titles, you can easily read a few pages by going to any book image on Amazon and clicking “Look inside.”
Watch a Video
I personally prefer E.H. Shepard’s illustrations, however, this short (2:30) Disney video of Pooh stuck at Rabbit’s house is a great trip down memory lane.
Reflect on Words of Wisdom
Whether you use the following quotes as writing prompts or just think about their meaning in your life, I hope you’ll agree that Winnie the Pooh and friends had many important things to say.
“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” –Pooh
About Slowing Down
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” –Christopher Robin
“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”–Pooh
“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.”
“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an adventure is going to happen.”
About Comfort Zones
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
About Worry as a Waste
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
About Being Present
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
And A Few Profundities I Love
“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”
” ‘Well,’ said Pooh, “what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
” ‘There’s the South Pole,’ said Christopher Robin, ‘and I expect there’s an East Pole and a West Pole, though people don’t like talking about them.’ ”
Do you have a favourite Winnie the Pooh moment or memory? A favourite character? How will you celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day? Please let us know in the comments below.