Way back in the 1980’s, I worked in a shelter for women who were battered and their children. It was the first shelter in our area and I acted as the “Child Advocate”. I worked with the children while they were at the shelter trying to meet their many needs, entertain them and offer comfort and safety. I had come across this story (which I have adapted for a specific purpose) in literature about transactional psychology. I have found it over the years to please and benefit “KIDS” of all ages. When working in the shelter, listening to the story of and then creating beautiful “warm fuzzies” was a week long adventure. You will understand more when you read my adapted story. The original author, Claude Steiner shared this story in many languages with children around the world. They had a common language. And whatever you called these creatures known as Warm Fuzzies, you knew what it meant when you gave a Warm Fuzzy to a friend or acquaintance. It meant that you would get that warm and fuzzy feeling in your belly and your heart.
My reason for once again re-writing this wonderful tale is as a sort of “community building tool” for the community wherein I reside. Conflict has torn the small apartment complex apart making it very stressful for many of the tenants to continue living here. I was hoping that through the use of humor that will hopefully remind folks of what “community” really means. So, welcome to my tale of the Warm and Fuzzy Tale.
A Warm and Fuzzy Tale
Not long ago, in a place not far from Near, there was a tiny village where everyone was Happy. ( joyous, content)
Why were they so Happy? Each time a newcomer entered this lovely community, the Village Manager gave them a leather pouch. In the pouch, there were 3 (three) Warm Fuzzies. The tenants of the village were encouraged to share their Warm Fuzzies because surely there would always be enough for everyone. Warm Fuzzies re-generated themselves each time you gave one away. On the other hand, if you hoarded them, they were not able to duplicate. Isolation is just sometimes like that.
Warm Fuzzies produce those warm and fuzzy feelings that you get inside your belly and your heart when someone gives you a special gift, shares their cup of Fuzzy Java, offers hugs, handshakes, nods of approval, a welcoming Hello, a shared laugh, a random act of kindness or even tells you that you smell good.
There were many variations of Warm Fuzzies but most looked something like this:
One day, a very wicked witch snuck into the Village that was not far from Near. She (or was it just a sorceress in drag?) tried to cast evil spells. Some say she turned a man into stone but no one has ever found him so perhaps that is just a “Witch Tale”? She tried her spells again and again but none of them worked because the people in the Village were just too darn happy. After all, they each had a pouch full of unending Warm Fuzzies. Each time that they shared a W.F., another one would grow so they had no fear of running out.
The villagers felt free to exchange their Warm Fuzzies every day…or at least every other day.
But then the wicked witch consorted with another wicked witch and they came up with a very, very bad plan that could change the very nature of the small village (not far from Near). The wicked witches (or perhaps they were sorceress’ in drag or perhaps one witch and one sorceress. Does it really matter?)
Anyway, they designed phony Warm Fuzzies that were really COLD PRICKLIES.
Now, a cold prickly delivers a real punch. It can shape-shift to a Warm Fuzzy simply by adding a snarl. Cold Pricklies look like this:
Unless the counterfeit Warm Fuzzy was snarling, few could tell the difference.
His eyebrows were a dead giveaway, however, no one seemed to notice.
Unlike Warm Fuzzies, Cold Pricklies show up at the oddest times and make you feel pretty shitty inside. They can come in the forms of insults, being ignored, silent treatments, gossip and downright rudeness. Nobody wants Cold Pricklies.
Those wicked individuals came by night when the villagers were asleep, and stole all of the Warm Fuzzies and replaced them in the pouches with Warm Fuzzy look-a-likes or Cold Pricklies.
The very next day, the villagers arose and began just another Happy Day. It was hardly noticeable at sunrise, but there were a few grim looking clouds overhead and everyone appeared a little “testy”. Their eyes had lost their shine, their backs were hunched and the kind words they said came out all
However, they still began their day by offering each other a Warm Fuzzy. Hey, how are you? Did you sleep well last night?”, “You look well today?” “Thank you for loaning me those warm and fuzzy socks.” “Can I get you anything at the store for you?”, “If you need some help just let me know?” “Gotta quarter for the washing machine?” ETC, ETC, ETC.
But the villagers were not smiling. They were not feeling warm or even a little bit fuzzy. Many walked away with confused or downright sad faces; some went inside and would not come out again. Even the words “please” and “thank you” went unappreciated.
WHAT COULD BE WRONG??????
This went on for hours, days, weeks and then months. The little village became much too quiet or much too loud. People hurled insults, withdrew from neighborly relationships, and became ensnarled in adding to the great misery that showered them like acid rain. Every “Hello” felt like a burn, every “thank you” felt fake, every offer of help was received like the bubonic plague. The villagers did not trust each other- they could not accept a Warm Fuzzy without considering that it could be a Cold Prickly.
Then, one day in early Fall, an outsider came to the village. He did not look like a witch or a sorceress. In fact, he looked more like a prince. Anyway, he was greeted by a few of the villagers who continued to come out despite the threat of the Cold Pricklies. They had Faith.
One of the villagers offered what she hoped was a Warm Fuzzy to the prince-like person. She prayed that it would be a W.F. and not a C.P. but she was wrong.
The prince-like person stepped back from the pouch and exclaimed, “How dare you offer me a Cold Prickly”
“I am so sorry”, she said, tears running down her pale face. “My bag used to be full of Warm Fuzzies but now there appear to be counterfeit Warm Fuzzies that feel like Cold Pricklies. I do not know what to do?”
The gentle prince-like person knelt down beside her. “Empty your pouch out beside me. Do not touch them.
She did what she was told.
said the prince-like person with the golden blond hair, blue eyes, and a generous dimple on his right cheek.
From his velvet coat-pocket, he pulled out a beautiful Warm Fuzzy, the fluffiest fuzzy that they had ever seen.
“This, my lady, is a true Warm Fuzzy!”
Next, he compared the Warm Fuzzy that had come from his pocket with the counterfeit that lay beside him.
“Now, can you tell the difference?”
“T E R R I F I C!” cried the villager.
“Now all that we have to do is get rid of the counterfeit fuzzies and replace them with our old, good-feelings Warm Fuzzies. But, oh, where shall we find them? And who will believe me?”
“Here, here. I have a whole sack of them right here. I have more than enough to give each villager 3 (three) Warm Fuzzies to begin growing their own.
And so, the lovely villager took the first chance, knocked on each door and offered a Warm Fuzzy from her pouch. Now there was much resistance at first…people were tentative about accepting the Warm Fuzzies for fear that they were Cold Pricklies instead. What if the “come sit with me!”, warm blueberry muffins, thank you’s, compliments, “you smell nice” ETC, ETC. ETC were taken the wrong way. What if the Warm Fuzzy was sinister like a bad joke???
BUT SOMETHING MIRACULOUS HAPPENED THAT DAY!
The pretty little villagers told her story of the prince-like person and how he generously filled each of their pouches with W. F.s and the C. P’s were destroyed. Everyone was off with a clean slate, a renewed capability of accepting (tolerating?) each other and trusting the goodness that could be shared.
So this is the tale of the WARM FUZZIES and COLD PRICKLIES adapted by me, Betsy, from the original WARM FUZZY story written in the 1960’s by Claude Steiner-