The bear slowly lifted his paw in emphasis. "I don't mean the whole winter," he said, meaning to reassure. "I know you never sleep long even when it's cold." He shook his head in never-ending befuddlement at that trait, but he did know it.
"And you want me to eat pine needles," the hare said skeptically, long dark-tipped ears angling back.
The bear hunched his shoulders a little. "Good layer to have in the belly for a long sleep," he said, not sure how else to persuade. Then, evergreens serving to remind him of another point he knew to be important, he said, "We won't miss Christmas. I'll set your gift for plenty of time."
The alarm clock was not so shiny as the year before when it had been new. It even had two or three scrapes from the walls of the bear's cave. But it ticked steadily, a comforting reminder as the hare curled up next to the bear. The hare would try a long nap this time. Bear would keep them both warm.