WORD FOR THE WEEK
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.