A bear family lived in a cozy wooden cabin located in a dense spruce forest. Daddy Bear, Mommy Bear and Bruce were very happy. The forest provided everything they needed.
Daddy Bear built beautiful furniture out of wood in his workshop behind the house. He was very skilled. He most often built tables and chairs, but he could make anything that the others in the forest needed.
Mommy Bear painted his creations with beautiful colors and lovingly decorated them with pretty patterns.
All the animals appreciated their work and placed many orders throughout the year, but especially leading up to Christmas. Bruce didn’t mind the rush and he was even allowed to help if he liked.
Bruce went to the bear school every morning. He daydreamed during his lessons of woodworking with Daddy Bear in the workshop. Daddy Bear had told him that he was already very good with wood and that he might be able to work in the workshop one day soon.
One fine afternoon, Bruce and Daddy Bear wandered the forest collecting wood.
“Look, Bruce!” Daddy Bear said. “The forest is much too dry this year. Even though the warm weather has been enjoyable, this summer has been too hot and it didn’t rain enough. It’s not good for our forest.”
Bruce didn’t understand Daddy Bear’s concern because he was thinking of the many days when he frolicked happily in the woods until late in the evening because of the nice weather.
One particularly hot day, as Bruce walked home from school, many animals suddenly ran towards him. One frantically shouted, “There’s a fire! There’s a fire! Run!”
Bruce ran after them. He had seen a lot of smoke and high flames. He started to smell the acrid smoke and kept running until he no longer knew where he was.
Fortunately, it rained very hard that night, soaking the animals and extinguishing the fire. The next day, they all started looking for a way back to their families.
Bruce couldn’t stop thinking about his parents. He was very worried and wanted to find them as soon as possible. But the forest looked different because of the fire and Bruce didn’t know where to go.
First he met a family of rabbits who offered for him to stay with them for the night. But Bruce couldn’t fit in the rabbit hole.
“Maybe I’ll fit in the fox burrow,” Bruce thought to himself as he joined a group of foxes. But he didn’t fit in their house either.
He tried the hedgehog family, the badgers and even the wolves, but he didn’t fit in anywhere. Many days passed and he kept looking for home and a play to stay.
Soon Bruce noticed that the last leaves were falling from the trees. He knew that winter was not far off.
Only a few days later it got very cold and Bruce desperately needed a place to sleep. Many animals had found their families again. Deep in his heart, he hoped that his parents were also looking for him and that they had survived the forest fire.
Bruce remembered Daddy Bear saying that one should never give up and that there was always a solution.
Just then, Bruce the Bear realized that he could use his woodworking skills to build a shelter for himself. He started collecting old sticks and branches from the forest. He took it upon himself to build his own winter quarters where, if need be, he could stay safe and warm for the season.
The other animals who had also not yet found their homes helped Bruce. Christmas was coming and they decided to all move into Bruce’s cabin together and make it as cozy as possible. Bruce hoped his parents would be proud of him when they saw his house.
The squirrel wanted a Christmas tree and so the field mouse and the old hedgehog helped her put one up. Bruce decorated it with a colorful string of lights and some stars made of straw. It was beautiful.
All the lost animals gathered around the little fir tree and sang Christmas carols together. Their concert could be heard throughout the forest and many animals started coming to hear them sing.
Some joined in and clapped along. Others brought delicious cookies and warm tea for everyone.
Suddenly, Bruce recognized two familiar voices among all the singers in the forest. His mother and father had heard the concert and were singing along loudly.
Bruce could see that they were proud of him. It was a very happy reunion, for they had found each other at last on Christmas.
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