Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Snuggle-Bunnies and Little Blessings

One rainy day when I was seven, my father took me for a ride in his pick-up truck through the Georgia countryside. He pulled off the road and, in very serious tones, informed me that he and Mom were getting a divorce. As I watched the heavy rain pushed aside by the windshield wiper blades, he explained that Mom, my sister, and I would move to Charlotte to live with my grandparents.

As I digested this news, it occurred to me that Dad expected me to be sad, and I squeezed out a few tears. Behind those tears, however, was an incandescently happy little girl.

It’s hard to be sad when you’re told that you are going to live with two of the nicest people you’ve ever known in your entire life, two people whom you have wrapped around your little finger, two people who cherish you so absolutely that you feel like you can say or do anything—even push your sister down the stairs—and they will still love you.

Yep, that’s just a tragic situation for a seven-year-old, don’t you think?

When we were settled in Grandma and Papa’s small three-bedroom ranch with a big back yard, I basked in the daily glow of the love of three fabulous adults. Life was good.

What makes life good for a child? It’s not money and prestige and fancy cars and their parents’ high-powered careers. It’s not luxury vacations, first-class seating, or fine dining. Life is good for children when they are loved and have someone to love in return. Life is good when they can take pleasure in little things, like a grandmother who makes play-dough for them and a grandfather who hands them a ball-point pen and lets them doodle all over his grease-stained work shirt because, after all, the shirt is going to the cleaners anyway.

Every night, after Lisa and I were tucked into bed by Mom and Grandma, Papa would walk into the dark room, cigarette glowing in his hand. He sat at the foot of one of our twin beds. He talked with us. I don’t remember a single word of our conversations, the subject matter, or whether he shared words of wisdom with us. Maybe he told jokes or asked questions about our day or told us stories. What he said was not really important. He was there. Every night.

I remember feeling safe, feeling that there was a strong, smart, sweet man who was there for me, dependable and true. I remember falling asleep with a whiff of cigarette smoke and Canadian Mist and Old Spice. I remember feeling loved.

When I had children of my own, I wanted to continue this bedtime tradition, which we christened Snuggle-Bunnies. Both our boys sleep in one queen-size bed, and George and I take turns every night lying on each side of the bed, talking, rubbing backs, tickling knees, and having conversations with stuffed animals. At the end of my time with each boy, I place my hand on his head and say, “The Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.”

Recently, I stumbled on a quotation that struck home with me. Keith J. Thomas said, "Unless we can do little things well we can never do big things. We must ennoble our little duties, and we shall find they grow into big achievements. Little acts of thoughtfulness, little kindnesses, little tendernesses, little charities make up the sum total of a large, generous and lovable mind."

My grandfather had a large, generous, and lovable mind, and he showed me the secret to love. It’s not the grand gesture, the huge vacation, the biggest present under the tree. Love is the little daily gift of time and attention, the dependability and thoughtfulness shown in little gestures, the reflection of God in the small things we do for those who need us.

Snuggle-Bunnies and little blessings make a big difference in children’s lives. After all, what is bigger than to teach someone how to love?

I invite you to share in the comments your version of Snuggle-Bunnies: whatever little thing that lets you know you are loved by someone or that lets others know you love them.


  1. What a lovely story, Susan! My husband comes and hugs me from behind when I'm working at the kitchen counter; a couple of near misses with big knives, but lovely, anyway LOL

  2. Great memories, thanks for sharing. I love that your have established this time with your sons. My dad would let me follow him everywhere, and I loved following in his footsteps in the garden, listening to him explaining how things would grow. Lots of great memories following him and trying to line my footsteps into his prints.

  3. Amen! We bless the kids with oil every night after the bedtime routine, too. Since I started working at night, I have developed a nap time routine with Mommy and Daddy does the bedtime thing.

  4. Your entry brought to mind so many memories. Arielle is now 19, but they are as fresh as ever in my mind: Bedtime prayers and lullabies, snuggling while we read books together (which was my favorite time), and - even now that she's a blossoming young adult! - talking, talking, talking about life, relationships, our spiritual walk - and never letting a day go by without hugging.

  5. And to that I say AMEN!!! Yes, yes, yes.... and taking it a thought further... continue with these as our relatives and other family members get older!!! It goes full circle and at that time in their life - it's important for the snuggle bunny equivalent: the "stay in touch" phone calls; the helping hand to decorate for the holidays; the "I made some extra soup" delivery; the "can I take you on an errand opportunity" they all mean so much. We all need our snuggle bunnies.

    Great commentary

  6. Wonderful story Susan - and how true that it's the love we remember from childhood - not the words or even sometimes the deeds. My snuggle-bunny? Some would not consider my husband a romantic type of guy - but I KNOW he loves me. Not from the vases of flowers (though on occasion there are those), and not from the little love notes that other women might receive from their hubbies. MY hubby shows me he loves me by the little daily things - doing the laundry to save me the trip up and down the stairs (I have bad knees), uncomplainingly fixing dinner when I come home from work and don't feel like doing anything, and getting up and going to the store at bedtime because I forgot to buy MY contact solution. To me - THAT'S LOVE!!!! :) It's the little things - the daily things - not the GRAND GESTURES that matter most.

  7. This reminds me of the quote by Mother Teresa which I *think* goes "We can do not great things, only small things with great love."


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!