“Why, It’s Your Birthday, Bear!”


He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none (Luke 3:11).

Bear and Chipmunk were sitting at their kitchen table. “Do you remember what day today is, Chipmunk?” Bear asked his friend.

“Tuesday?” said Chipmunk.

“Yes, it’s Tuesday,” said Bear, “but do you remember what else today is?”

Chipmunk looked at the calendar on the wall. “Why, it’s your birthday, Bear! Happy Birthday!”

“You remembered!” said Bear smiling. “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone baked me a birthday cake and gave me a birthday present?”

“That would be nice,” said Chipmunk. “Maybe someone will.”

“Maybe I’d better leave so that someone can get busy,” said Bear.

“Maybe you’d better,” said Chipmunk, trying hard not to smile until Bear was safely gone.

“I love birthdays, especially Bear’s,” Chipmunk said, opening the kitchen cupboard and taking out a cake. “I’m glad I baked this yesterday.” He mixed up a batch of honey frosting and spread it over and around the cake. “I hope Bear likes it.”

Bear was peeking through the kitchen window. “I will,” he said quietly. “I will!”

Chipmunk carried the birthday cake into the dining room and put it on the table, then went to the bedroom and took a big box out of the closet. Taking some wrapping paper out of the desk drawer, he wrapped the big box. “I hope Bear likes it,” he said.

Bear was peeking through the bedroom window. “Oh, I will,” he said quietly. “I know I will.”

Chipmunk carried the big box into the dining room and put it on the table next to the birthday cake. “There now,” he said. “Everything’s ready. I’ll call Bear.”

But Chipmunk didn’t have to call Bear. Bear was standing right there next to him! Chipmunk laughed. “Happy birthday, Bear!” he said.

“You really did remember, Chipmunk!” Bear said happily.

Bear opened the big box. His eyes shone with pleasure. “Oh, Chipmunk,” he said, “I’ve always wanted a pair of roller skates just like these!”

“Do you like them?” asked Chipmunk.

“I love them!” Bear said, putting them on and lacing them up.

“I’m glad.”

Bear stood up. “Let’s go roller-skating together right now, Chipmunk.”

“I’m sorry, Bear,” said Chipmunk, “but I can’t.”

Bear looked surprised. “Why not?”

“I don’t have any roller skates.”

“Well then,” said Bear, “why don’t you take the money Grandma Chipmunk sent you for your birthday last week and buy some.”

“I already spent it.”

“On what?”

“On something special.”

Bear looked down at the new white roller skates he was wearing. Suddenly he knew what that something special was. Bear didn’t know what else to say, so he just said, “Thank you, Chipmunk.”

“You’re welcome,” said Chipmunk, smiling again.

Just then the doorbell rang. Bear skated over and answered it. A delivery person handed Bear a big package. It was from Uncle Bear. Bear unwrapped it, and his eyes opened wide. “Look at these, Chipmunk!” he said, taking a pair of glowing purple roller blades out of the box. Bear had never seen such fabulous skates before!

Chipmunk hadn’t either. He didn’t say anything, but the pair of white roller skates he had given Bear for his birthday seemed quite plain and ordinary now.

There was a card in the big box. It said:

Dear Nephew,

I Hope you enjoy these.

Happy birthday!

Uncle Bear

P.S. If there is something else you’d rather have, please exchange these for it.

Bear looked at the glowing purple roller blades he was holding. He looked down at the white roller skates he was wearing. He looked at Chipmunk. Then Bear put the glowing purple roller blades back into the big box and skated out the front door with them. “I’ll be back soon, Chipmunk,” he called over his shoulder.

Chipmunk watched Bear disappear down the road. “He didn’t even take time to have a piece of his birthday cake before he left!” Chipmunk said sadly.

He was sitting in his favorite chair when Bear came back. Bear was still wearing the white roller skates Chipmunk had given him, but he was not carrying the big box from Uncle Bear. Instead, he had a little box. Bear skated over to Chipmunk and handed him the little box. “Open it, Chipmunk,” he said.

Chipmunk’s eyes shone with pleasure. “Oh, Bear!” he cried, taking a pair of little white roller skates out of the little box. “I’ve always wanted a pair of roller skates just like these!”

“Do you like them?” asked Bear.

“I love them!” Chipmunk said, putting them on and lacing them up.

“I’m glad.”

Chipmunk stopped lacing up the little white roller skates. “Bear,” he said, “where are the purple roller blades Uncle Bear sent you?”

“I exchanged them for those,” said Bear, pointing to the little white roller skates Chipmunk was wearing.

Chipmunk didn’t know what else to say, so he just said, “Thank you, Bear.”

“You’re welcome,” said Bear, smiling again.

Chipmunk finished lacing up his little white roller skates. He stood up. “Let’s go roller-skating together right now, Bear!”

“I’m sorry, Chipmunk,” said Bear, “but I can’t.”

Chipmunk looked surprised. “Why not?”

“I haven’t had a piece of my birthday cake yet! And honey frosting is my very favorite.”

Bear ate three big bear-size pieces of birthday cake. Chipmunk ate two big chipmunk-size pieces. Then Bear wiped his mouth with his napkin and said, “I’m ready, Chipmunk. Let’s go roller-skating together right now!”

Chipmunk wiped his mouth with his napkin and said, “Let’s!”

And the two friends did.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown