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.

Eleven O’clockish

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.

E.H. Shepard illustration of Christopher Robin attaching Eeyore's tail

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,E.H. Shepard illustration of Pooh and Piglet walking in the forest 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.Winnie the Pooh and friends in boat

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.

About Love

“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

About Mistakes

“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”–Pooh

About Friendship

“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.

About Patience

“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.”

About Adventures

“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.”

About Loss

“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.”

About Encouragement

“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?”E.H. Shepard illustration of Pooh with his head in a Hunny pot
“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.

 

 

26 comments

  1. I love the words of wisdom from Winnie the Pooh and friends, Karen. I celebrated the day by enjoying some honey and hugging our Winnie the Pooh toy animal, a hand me down from our niece 🙂

    1. Sounds like a perfect way to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day, Natalie. I hugged a couple of stuffed toys too – an Eeyore and a Tigger. I’d love to say that they were handed down from someone but that would be a lie. I bought them four years ago at a Disney store!

  2. I love your list of quotes from Winnie the Pooh books. I had heard/read only a few of them, but so many are lovely. My favorite still is one I had heard – the one about encouragement.

    I only recently read Winnie the Pooh. Seriously. It was not part of my childhood, but hubby had the book in his (old) children’s book pile. I did enjoy it, maybe because I recognized its cultural significance.

  3. I too love the words of wisdom particularly the one about love! I couldn’t find where you comment on the You Tube presentation, just wanted to say my husband and I were in stitches laughing. Thanks for the humour Anna and Karen.

    1. Oh, I know wasn’t that an awesome video! Glad you and Walter enjoyed.

      Note: Fran’s comment and my response refer to a video that was a bit of content that was sent only to subscribers to the Profound Journey site.

  4. Loved all the quotes Karen – thank you! I’d forgotten how wonderful Winnie the Pooh books were and you brought it all back.

  5. I love Winnie the Pooh and I love this post ❤️
    There is a gentle wisdom to Pooh and his friends that has easily stood the test of time.

    Of course I had to take all three quizzes and I came up with 2 Poohs and a Piglet. I’m ok with that … although a couple of questions on that last quiz had me wondering about my moral compass 😉

    1. What a great phrase, Joanne – “gentle wisdom” – and so true.
      I hear you about a couple of the questions on the last quiz. I’m so glad that I’m not a teenager. I couldn’t handle those big decisions!
      By the way, the quote about comfort zones was for you. I was thinking of your excellent post about the active seniors group you joined.So impressed that you went into the forest.

  6. Oh, I only wish I had some honey today (or any day really). I go on jags where I eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Things with Winnie the Pooh and I are a little strained. I relate Winnie the Pooh with a certain person that is no longer in my life. She had a huge thing for the bear and anytime I saw one at a yard sale or store I thought of her and if it was cheap enough I would buy it for her. I am starting to lose that now and can fondly recall Winnie the Pooh and what he means to me aside from her.
    I love all the words of wisdom you listed Karen, I really enjoyed the story set in the hundred acre wood. Have you heard about each character representing a mental illness? Eeyore has depression, Piglet has anxiety, and so on. Here is a link to check out http://fantheories.wikia.com/wiki/Winnie_the_Pooh
    I find it really interesting and once you read the list and what fans think they suffer from it starts to make sense. Weird.
    My favourite character is the star – Winnie the Pooh himself. All the other characters help to populate the story but Winnie I feel a special kinship with.
    It is not a surprise to me that both A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard were defined by their involvement with the franchise of Winnie the Pooh. Many an actor gets pigeon-holed when they play a certain part for too long because no one can imagine them playing anything else and they get typecast. As far as Christopher Robin I think he needs to get over himself and move on with his life. He claims 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.” Writers get their inspiration from all sorts of places…why should Christopher’s dad be any different? I would be thrilled to have a character in a famous story named after me.
    As for the quizzes my results were;
    BuzzFeed – I’m Owl
    Zimbo – I’m Winnie (yay!)
    playbuzz – I’m Christopher Robin
    and the weird one brainfall – I am Winnie again. What a strange quiz that was.
    Oh, one last comment, my husband and I had a friend named Marty we privately called Eeyore. Talking to him most of the time he sounded just like when Eeyore talks in the books.

    Thank you, Anna, (and Karen for including it in the email) for the link to the video. I was laughing and horrified all at once. The world is in dire shape since this is the generation that will take the reins next.

  7. Hi Susan,
    Good that you got 2 out of 4 quizzes saying that you were your favourite character. Let’s call that conclusive 🙂
    I did see the mental illness thing when I was researching for this post, but I didn’t include it because, for me, it tarnished the purity of my childhood experience. I’m not surprised someone worked that out. Winnie the Pooh and friends seem to be many things to many people.
    I think what really did it for Christopher Robin was that his six year old voice had recorded the poems from his father’s two poetry collections. When he was at boarding school, other boys bullied him mercilessly including playing the record over and over and over. Then, when he was finished school and looking for a job, he couldn’t find one because – he claimed – everyone knew of his famous father and thought he wasn’t living up to whatever they considered should be his position in life.
    Christopher Robin ended up marrying his first cousin and the two of them opened a bookshop. Christopher Robin’s mother had been estranged from her brother (the cousin’s father ) for 30 years, was furious with CR and refused to speak to him for the rest of her life.

    1. Hi, I think people see what they want in things like Winnie the Pooh, hence the mental health theory. Sorry to have referred to it and sully your childhood memories after all given that you chose to exclude it for just that reason.
      What a messed up family Christopher Robin has! I didn’t know the whole story behind it all. I don’t know how much I would trust anything CR said without some sort of corroboration from other sources. He seems to have a case of sour grapes going on. Perhaps it is better to ignore the real world events and problems and just go immerse ourselves in the story in the books. 🤗

  8. Pooh was a big part of my growing up. In fact, we had an Australian Shepard named Pooh (he looked like a bear cub when he was a puppy) when I was young. I didn’t know of any of the background, career limitations, and soiled relationships and I think I will continue to ignore that part of the story. I loved Pooh and all of the characters and they will forever remain living happily in the Hundred Acre Woods (the original woods, not the Disney version). Thank you for sharing the lovely words of wisdom, I had forgotten a few of those. Have you ever read The Tao of Pooh?

    Oh, and thanks for the video link – too funny! I’m glad that I no longer need to hire people.

    1. Hi Janis,
      I have indeed read the Tao of Pooh. In fact, I think I own it. I hadn’t fessed up to that because the Pooh dictionary (and the stuffed Eeyore and Tigger toys that I copped to in an earlier comment) already seemed a bit over the top as purchases made as an adult and for myself.
      Ditto on the happy NOT to be in the environment described in the video!

  9. What an interesting post Karen! I learned so much about the behind the scenes of Winnie the Pooh. Sad that the writer and the illustrator became “typecast” as it were, by the success of the characters and that this bothered them greatly. This seems to happen a lot. Leonard Nimoy came out with the “I am not Spock” book but then later made peace with it and even embraced the fact that he would be forever aligned with that character. I’d like to think that I would be able accept something like this with good grace if it ever happened to me. (Hah, not likely to ever become a worry of mine). Thanks for sharing!
    Deb

    1. It does feel like a similar dilemma to the old – People are destroyed by huge lottery wins. How would you handle one? – question. My response to that, and to the fame accorded to Winnie the Pooh is “Please, of please, just let me try. I know I’d cope brilliantly!”
      Thanks for writing.

      1. Regards to those who win big at the lotto…if you weren’t good with money before the winfall, having lots of $ is not going to magically change that. So it’s understandable why so many big winners are worse off than before within 5 years of striking it rich. I guess the same goes for Fame. If you weren’t sure of who you were and what you stood for/believed in before achieving fame, fame and all the associated trappings will really do a number to you. Any wonder so many young people fall victim to fame? Now you and I are of an age to handle it gracefully and graciously, of that I am sure! 😉

        Deb

  10. Hi, Karen – Great post! Pooh was one of my favourites when I was growing up…and a favourite for my son, Creighton. Great memories! Thank you for sharing these quotes.

  11. Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up with Winnie the Pooh, but we have many other favorite cartoon characters. Belgium produced some really good cartoon creators and characters, some of which became world famous, like Tintin.

    I also grew up with a “tien-uurtje” and “vier-uurtje”, which I translate to “ten-o-clockje” and “four-o-clockje”. It is the snacks we had at that time during breaks at school or “tea time” at home. The Hobbit movies made this habit more popular as well. Now, I sometimes still have a vier-uurtje in the form of a brownie or bowl of ice cream, when that desire, mistakingly called “hunger” occurs at 4pm. 🙂

    1. I wondered if you were familiar with Winnie the Pooh when I read that the books had been translated into 50 languages. But I can certainly see that Tintin would be front and center. I hadn’t realized he originated in Belgium.
      Mmm, a brownie.So much better than honey in my books!

  12. Winnie the Pooh was part of my childhood, and, of course, I also read Pooh stories to my children. I remember that as a small child, I was quite disturbed by the Eeyore character, and want to skip all the stories that had him in it!

    Jude

    1. I too remember being disturbed by Eeyore. I don’t remember if I was afraid of him for some reason or if I just felt unbearably sad, but, now that you mention it, I do remember the feeling.

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