Better Than Bear Hugs

February 1, 2023

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Isabel Garcia teaches Hugo what it truly means when it comes to God’s love.

Better Than Bear Hugs

By Jean Boonstra

Hugo’s mom walked into the kitchen with a huge smile on her face. Hugo could see the ribbon peeking out from behind her.

“Oh no!” Hugo said with a groan. “Mom, really?”

His mom placed a huge package on the table. Hugo stared at the bright red paper covered in sparkly white hearts. The paper was wrapped neatly in shiny white ribbon tied into a huge bow at the top.

“Mom,” Hugo started to protest, but his mom interrupted.

“Oh come on Hugo,” she said. “You know Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. Now open your present!”

Hugo pulled on one corner of the white ribbon and ripped open the red paper. He pulled open the box and almost smiled. Inside was an enormous stuffed toy.

“Well, take him out of the box, Hugo!” his mom insisted.

Hugo’s hand landed on the softest fur he’d ever felt. Releasing the fluffy creature from the box, it grew in size. Sitting it down on the table, Hugo was eye to eye with the biggest teddy bear he’d ever seen.

“Isn’t he the cutest?” his mom gushed.

“Mom,” Hugo said, eyes still locked with the bear’s. “ I’m not really into Valentine’s Day presents anymore.”

His mom pulled up a chair and gazed into the teddy bear’s eyes. “You’re never too old to remember Valentine’s Day,” she said.

“It’s a silly holiday,” Hugo protested.

“It is a silly holiday,” she agreed.

“Then why do you do all this,” Hugo said pointing to the bear, the wrapping, and the heart decorations strung across the room.

“This holiday reminds me of the best gift I ever received,” his mom said quietly. “God’s love.”

Hugo wanted to run off, but somehow he couldn’t stop looking at the bear. He reached out and touched its paw. It was smooth and velvety.

“There’s a chapter in the Bible that talks about God’s love,” Hugo’s mom continued. “1st Corinthians 13. It says “…though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

“Faith to move mountains?” Hugo asked. “That’s not possible.”

“Oh I don’t know,” his mom answered. “Nothing is impossible with God. But as amazing as moving mountains would be, without God’s love it’s like having nothing.”

Hugo reached out and poked the bear’s nose. The plastic felt cold and just how Hugo imagined a real bear’s nose would feel.

“That chapter is called the love chapter,” his mom added.

Hugo wriggled uncomfortably.

“It says that love is patient and kind. Love doesn’t brag and it isn’t rude or demanding. And, Hugo?” his mom asked, “do you want to know what else?”

Hugo shrugged.

“Love never gives up faith or hope. We can always count on God’s love,” she said standing up. “Hugo, this teddy bear really needs something.”

“What?” Hugo asked.

“A hug!” his mom answered. “Now, come on if you don’t hug him, I will.”

“Oh fine, mom,” Hugo said with a sigh. He stretched and reached his arms around the teddy bear. He buried his face in the fluffy fur and he couldn’t help himself. He smiled.

“Not so bad, right?!” his mom teased.

“Now your turn,” Hugo laughed.

His mom squeezed the bear tight. “God’s love is even better than a bear hug, Hugo,” she said quietly. “And that’s why I love Valentine’s Day.”