WORD FOR THE WEEK

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - OPINIONS & LETTERS - By Dun­can Bal­lard Pri­est in charge, St Oswald’s

FAR off in the mists of Rus­sian his­tory in a tiny vil­lage, there lived an old lady.

She’s known to­day as Babushka, although that just means “Grandma”, so we don’t re­ally know her name.

One cold night, a rip­ple of ex­cite­ment spread through the vil­lage. “The wise men are com­ing”, they cried. “Come and see, come and see”. But Babushka wouldn’t come.

She was proud of her lit­tle wooden house, and there were still floors to be swept and pots to be shined.

Imag­ine her sur­prise, then, when a lit­tle later there was a sharp tap on the door.

Open­ing it, she found the three vis­i­tors from the East ask­ing if they could stay the night. The old lady was de­lighted, and be­fore long the house filled with the smell of a hearty soup, and the sound of her vis­i­tors’ deep, ac­cented voices.

Over din­ner they ex­plained that they were on their way to visit the boy who had been born king of the world, to present their gifts to him. They en­quired, kindly, if she would like to join them on their quest.

“No, no” she replied, “I have no gifts fit for a baby king” – although in truth she had a cup­board full of toys which be­longed to a baby son of her own long ago.

Af­ter her vis­i­tors had gone to bed she stayed up long into the night, tak­ing the old toys care­fully out of the cup­board, and pol­ish­ing them up un­til they shone like new.

When at last she fell asleep, she slept for so long that by the time she woke her spe­cial vis­i­tors had gone.

She set off in pur­suit of them, the shiny toys bun­dled in a bag, hop­ing to present them to the baby king. Wher­ever she went on her jour­ney, the wise men had left just be­fore her.

Even when she got to Beth­le­hem, the sta­ble was cold and empty, with no more than a lit­tle hol­low in the manger where the baby king had lain.

So now her jour­ney con­tin­ues – al­ways trav­el­ling, never ar­riv­ing. Al­ways hop­ing to catch the king around the next cor­ner or in the next coun­try.

Along the way she hands out her toys to boys and girls who de­serve them – which is why, in Rus­sia, chil­dren keep an eye out for her at Christ­mas.

Babushka’s is a sad tale of missed op­por­tu­nity.

In­stead of seiz­ing it, she let it slip by in all her busy­ness ... and has re­gret­ted it ever since.

Per­haps this lit­tle old Rus­sian lady has some­thing to teach us in our busy and so­phis­ti­cated lives ... even to­day.

Let’s not get so busy with Christ­mas that we miss the point of Christ­mas.

The story of a Rus­sian Babushka (grand­mother) is a re­minder not to miss the true point of Christ­mas.

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