It was a cool fall morning that day in the Hollow, when Bunny came up with his grand idea. As he opened his big eyes and stretched his furry little legs, he looked around at his cozy tree hollow and smiled.
"What a beautiful home I have," he sighed. "I am so thankful." Indeed, in all the woods, This Hollow was probably the most magical and delightful place. It was the perfect spot for a deva of the forest, with green hills rolling over deep canyons of craggy rock. And around one little bend in the trail, sunlight encircles a large Bay tree with a hole in it. This is Bunny Hollow.
"That's it!" cried Bunny. "I'm going to invite all my friends to a Thanksgiving dinner. I think I'll ask each of them to wear their favorite hat, bring their appetites, and compose a special prayer of thanks."
This was a good idea, thought Bunny. He had been wanting to share the harvest of his gardens, but hadn't had the opportunity of late. Sometimes his deva duties called him here and there all over the mountains. Being a guardian of the forest is a Big Job.
He opened up his cupboards and chests and began pulling out all of the wonderful things he had grown. There were lots of vegetables, Bunny's favorites, with lots of fruits and nuts, too. And, oh, he would need to trade something with the Bee family for a little honey. He definitely wanted some honey for the pies. Yum
Bunny quickly jotted down the invitations to all his friends and stuck them under the rock in front of the Hollow. Old Mr. Opossum, the postman, would pick them up soon. Then, he began his work.
As the days hopped by, all of the friends had heard about Bunny's dinner and were quite excited. Many had decided to make new hats for the occasion, and that kind of creative activity always makes a stir.
Bunny was far too busy preparing for the big day to worry about hats, but he was unfailingly polite when, one by one, his friends dropped by to visit and "show off" theirs. Finally, much to Bunny's relief, Thanksgiving arrived.
The day dawned clear and sunny, with a crispness that was welcome, and Bunny opened his windows and doors. Humming and singing to himself, he decorated the Hollow with all the nature's treasures he had collected throughout the forest. In fact, Bunny was making so much noise, he didn't notice when someone came to his door and left a message. Only when he stepped outside for a breath of air did he see the note, tacked to a hat hung on the door.
It was from Mrs. Raccoon. She wouldn't be coming to the party, but she left her prayer in her hat and, oh-oh! she was sending along her childrenalone!
Bunny scarcely had time to think when suddenly, in burst the six baby raccoons, climbing everywhere, investigating everything, into this and spilling that!
"Oh my!" said Bunny. He grabbed each of them and gave big hugs, and then made them all stand one by one in a line. While they fidgeted he collected their hats, cute little red and green tam-o-shanters, and tried to calm them.
"Babies! Babies!" he cried above their constant yakking. "Please be quiet. I need your help." Bunny thought quickly.
"Now listen, each of my guests is coming with a hat and a prayer. I would like You to be my special collectors. You can put them all in that great big basket out in the hallway. By the door."
Of course each of the six baby raccoons had to climb into and see the basket, now a swarm of lively activity. Just what Bunny had in mind. Now they were out of his hair.
Before he could turn around there was a dull thump at the door. As Bunny opened it wide there lay Mr. Rattlesnake, in a fez, all stretched out on the doormat. He was a little sluggish and had several strange bulges in his middle, but Bunny pretended not to notice as he welcomed him in.
"Thanks Bunny," said Mr. Rattlesnake.
"Have a good nap, Mr. R.," said Bunny, and he walked back inside. The Chipmunk family had just arrived from the Redwoods, Papa, Mama, and three tiny babies (put your index fingers just two and a half inches apart)all in baseball caps. They lived in a beautiful hollow of their own, so they knew how to maneuver in a tiny space. But the addition of more children now added to the energy of the good time, and soon it was a Party.
After awhile all the friends arrived, and Bunny brought out the food. There were heaping plates of carrots and greens, rutabagas, squash, and lettuce. Miss Squirrel, ever the avant garde, brought her own corn, artfully concealed in the beret sitting atop her bushy tail, and would snack surreptitiously through the evening. She had been a schoolteacher, she said with a wink, and had certain ways of controlling rowdy children. Bunny ushered her immediately to the basket in the hall.
The many Bunny relatives now helped the guests to their seats around the table. The Bald Eagle couple were given place of honor and looked regal and serene in their large turbans. As the Mouse and Red Cardinal, both dressed oddly enough in matching Stetsons, pulled up their chairs, they couldn't help but notice that an empty place had been set beside Bunny. There on that plate was a stylish feathered hat and a piece of paper.
As Bunny quieted everyone all attention turned to him.
"My dear friends, welcome. I'm so glad that you could come. I'd like to start by saying that you all look fabulous in those hats!" The table bubbled in appreciative murmurs. "How wonderful that we can all get together with such bounty. And now I can't wait to hear all your prayers."
Everyone at the table began to preen themselves with a kind of righteous fervor, but when Bunny called randomly on the first, the table exploded in indignant anger. Each friend was shouting and yelling at his tablemate, and all of them at Bunny! It was awful. It appears that each thought that they should be the first supplicant! What a mess! There was even the beginning of a food fight.
Bunny's Thanksgiving dinner now looked in shambles, with no one being thankful, until Bunny happened to glance down at the plate next to him and saw the small piece of paper. It was the note that Mrs. Raccoon had left on his door. He began to pound his fist on the table over and over until all those present finally quieted down.
"My friends, there is only one prayer here that can be considered to be given the honor of 'first prayer,' if that is what you want. This prayer was left by someone who is not here, but has the best advice."
Just at that moment the six young raccoon babies, suddenly remembering that they had had a job to collect hats, burst into the room and jumped over the table. As they ran from guest to guest snatching each hat, the room erupted with glee. Everyone laughed and laughed until Bunny was finally able to be heard.
"This prayer was offered by their mother, and if she can say it with a smile, then anyone can! And the prayer is, 'I am being the smile, as the Mother Earth smiles'."
The table grew quiet as each recognized the wisdom being told, especially on this day. As they paused, no one could remember when such a good time had been had in the Hollow. Then each guest hugged the ones next to them, put on someone else's hat, and the dinner continued.
No one seemed to mind that they weren't wearing their own hat creation, as they ate and enjoyed each other's company. When the winner for Best Hat was announced, Mrs. Raccoon's feathery crown, the entire party roared with laughter and decided to accept her prize as their babysitting fee!
Such a feast Bunny had prepared. It seemed that each guest's favorite dish was there, and each guest felt honored and loved. When it came time for dessert, and Bunny's famous honey pie, this was one very satisfied group. Just as everyone was finishing, Bunny rose to speak.
"Thank you for coming to my Thanksgiving party. You are all such good friends, and I am thankful you are in my life. I bless you all for opening your hearts and coming to a place of soul and magic. Please remember your hats."
Bunny fondly said good bye to each and every guest, and lit a little candle for the window. It shone out into the beautiful Thanksgiving night, and guided his dear friends home.
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