Babouschka – A Russian Christmas Story
It was night when Christ was born in Bethlehem. In a country far away from him, an old, old woman named Babouschka sat in her comfortable little house by her warm fire. The wind was carrying the snow outside into drifts and blowing down the chimney, but it only made Babouschka’s fire burn more brightly.
“I’m so glad that I can stay indoors!” said Babouschka, holding her hands out to the bright fire. But suddenly she heard a loud knock at her door. She opened it and her candle shone on three old men standing outside in the snow. Their beards were as white as the snow, and so long that they reached the ground. Their eyes shone kindly in the light of Babouschka’s candle, and their arms were full of precious things – boxes of jewels, and sweet-smelling oils, and ointments.
“We have traveled far, Babouschka,” they said. “We stopped to tell you of the Baby Prince born tonight in Bethlehem. He comes to rule the world and teach all men to be loving and true. We are carrying gifts for Him. Come with us, Babouschka!”
But Babouschka looked at the thick snow, and then inside at her cozy room and the warm fire. “It is too late for me to go with you, good sirs,” she said. “The weather is too cold.” She went inside again and shut the door, and the old men travelled on to Bethlehem without her. But as Babouschka sat by her fire, rocking in her chair, she began to think about the little Christ child, because she loved all babies.
“Tomorrow I will go to find Him,” she said to herself. “Tomorrow, when it is light, I will take Him some toys.”
So when it was morning Babouschka put on her long cloak, and took her walking stick, and filled a basket with the pretty things a baby would like – gold balls, and wooden toys, and strings of silver cobwebs – and she set out to find the Christ child.
But, oh! Babouschka had forgotten to ask the three old men the road to Bethlehem, and they had traveled so far through the night that she could not catch up with them. Up and down the roads she hurried, through woods and fields and towns, saying to whoever she met: “I’m trying to find the Christ child. Where can I find him? I bring some pretty toys for Him. For the Baby Prince.”
But no one could tell her the way to go, and they all said: “Farther on, Babouschka, farther on.” So she traveled on, and on, and on for years and years – but she never found the little Christ child.
People say that old Babouschka is traveling still, looking for him. When it is Christmas Eve, and children are lying fast asleep, Babouschka comes softly through the snowy fields and towns, wrapped in her long cloak and carrying her basket on her arm. With her walking stick she knocks gently at the doors and goes inside and holds her candle close to the little children’s faces.
“Is He here?” she asks. “Is the little Christ child here?” And then she turns sadly away again, crying: “Farther on, farther on.” But before she leaves, she takes a toy from her basket and lays it beside the pillow as a Christmas gift. “For the Baby Prince,” she says softly and then hurries on through the years, forever in search of the little Christ child.