My sister made me a bear once. I think it was for my birthday, not for Christmas, but she made me a bear. My mother offered to assist, to help her with a pattern, or - at the very least - some sort of plan. But, no. Big Sis' was going to wing it. And when I opened the gift, I remember being sort of shocked. And silent for a moment. The bear had no arms and only one massively misshaped ear. In place of the other ear he had a bell...to make up for the lack, I suppose. His legs were a bit wonky and his seams were on the outside of him. But it only took me the space of that one shocked, silent moment to know that this was a Long Term Bear. That I'd love him. My sister was at hand, awaiting The Response, and I'm sure I said "awww." I still have that bear. I have him here, in fact, and not just in storage back in my parents' attic.
That's why, when Millie decided to make a bear for her own little sister for Christmas, and she was a little surprised when she turned it right-side-out before stuffing it that it didn't look quite how she'd pictured it, how she'd intended it, I had my own Big Sis' Bear on hand to illustrate what I told her. First of all, that her bear was shaping up to be pretty darn awesome. Two ears, two arms, two fairly symmetrical legs. Second, that no matter how it shaped up, it would be loved. Essie would love it the way I loved the bear my sister had made for me. It's not really about how plump or symmetrical or evenly stitched it is. It's that when your sister makes you something, you love it. It's adorable. Inherently. You can't not love it. And then, to top it all off, she went and sewed on these perfect little blue buttons for the eyes and nose. And gave it a jingle bell bracelet as an after thought, inspired by the little bell-ear my own bear has sported proudly all these years. (I guess I took these pictures before she added the jingle bell...it was a little green bell on a golden cord. You'll just have to picture it.)
So, of course, Essie opened her bear on Christmas Eve and loved it. Right away, in fact. No shock. No silence. Just an immediate "awww!" and a big hug and lots of smiles and excitement. She named it Belle.