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Presbyterians Today editor explores ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ and asks, ‘What is real?’

The Babe of Bethlehem gave humankind its greatest gift

by Donna Frischknecht Jackson | Presbyterians Today

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the 1922 children’s classic “The Velveteen Rabbit,” Margery Williams tells the story of a stuffed rabbit who desperately wants to be real. Snuggled in a little boy’s Christmas stocking, the toy seems to be the most wonderful gift ever. That’s until it notices the mechanical toys under the tree. Feeling inadequate, the rabbit asks the oldest toy in the nursery named “Skin Horse” — because all its fur had been hugged off — “What is real?” And with that, the rabbit’s adventure begins.

A century has gone by since the book’s debut, but the message is still relevant today — perhaps even more so in an age of social media facades.

I recently revisited “The Velveteen Rabbit,” having been introduced to it by a mentor who saw my struggle with vocational identity. I was leaving magazine publishing for the pulpit, but still wondered who I was being called to be. She handed me a copy and said, “Here. Read. Allow God to make you real.” What she was really asking was for me not to fear the light inside of me.

Each one of us has that light, yet we often hide it from the world because that light illumines our true selves, which can be scary. Our true selves might ask for us to go on unknown and uncertain paths.

While Williams’ story starts at Christmas, it ends in an Easter sort of way, as the stuffed toy is “resurrected” as a real rabbit. And that to me is the great gift of Christmas that tends to get lost in all the fa-la-las. Jesus was given to us so that we can have new life.

The Rev. Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today. (Contributed photo)

As editor of Presbyterians Today, I can’t think of a more fitting editorial for you who have shared your God moments with me. That’s because after the March/April 2023 issue, we will be embarking on a journey in becoming real — taking a sacred pause to listen to what God is asking in how we share the stories of hope in the world. I’m excited, even if it means embracing a season of uncertainty, because I know we can’t start living the life God wants for us until we die to our old selves.

“What is real?” I whisper to the Babe of Bethlehem. And in this holy season, I wait eagerly for God’s glorious answer. I pray you will wait with me.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today. You are invited to walk alongside the team during this transformation. Email your thoughts, ideas and prayers to

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