Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Story: Baboushka

There are so many good Christmas legends! Here is one, a story from Russia. I love this story because of the simplicity of its message. For more about Russian Christmas traditions, go here.

An old woman sat is her cottage, thinking about the work she needed to do Her floors were never clean, no matter how much she swept.

Outside she heard voices, and then came a knock on her door. When she opened it, there stood three men, dressed in rich clothing. They looked as if they had been traveling a long distance.

"We have come a long way," one of the men said “We are seeking the Child who is to be the King of us all. Do you know where we can find him? We are bringing him gifts of great worth.”

“I do not know of this child,” Baboushka told them. “Come in and drink some tea. You look very cold. It is a terrible night to be out.”

“We must go on. Come with us, Baboushka! Come with us!”

“Indeed I cannot! The snow and wind would carry me away. And besides, I have so much work to do!” The three men left. Baboushka watched them leave, and as she sat down she wondered about what they had said.

A Child King? What was this they spoke of? But she thought, my little house always needs to be cleaned. I do not have time to make a journey!
Baboushka sat and rocked and thought about the three men and their gifts, and she began to wish she had gone with them. Housework could have waited. She should have gone with them to honor the Child.

At last she decided that she would leave first thing in the morning, and perhaps she would find the men who had stopped at her cottage and travel with them. She hurriedly looked around her cottage and found a few things she might give the Child as a gift.

She bundled up well in the morning, wrapping herself in scarves and shawls and a heavy coat. The snow blew around her but she traveled on. Everywhere she went she asked, “Have you seen three rich men traveling by here? Do you know where the Child is that they seek?” But no one could help her.

So she traveled on and on, but she never found the child. Some people say she is still traveling. She finds little children sleeping and looks to see if it might be the One she is seeking. But she is never sure, so she leaves the child a gift just in case.

On Christmas morning, children know that Baboushka has been to see them while they slept, and that she is still searching for the Child and the three men. They know that is Baboushka who has left the gift for them, just in case they might be the One she is seeking.

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