Universitas Kristen Indonesia
“Our willingness to help and take care of the less fortunate people and readiness to avoid the abuse of power are essential conditions for having joyful and miraculous Christmas.”
Working in a Christian organization grants me the privilege of having an early Christmas holiday. This year the holiday started on 18 December, and it provided me with an ample opportunity to do one of my favorite activities—reading. Eager to broaden my horizon about festivities, I thought reading literary works about Christmas would be great, and this brought me to engage with three short stories written by three greatest Russian writers: Leo Tolstoy’s “Papa Panov’s Special Christmas”, Anton Chekhov’s “At Christmas Time”, and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Beggar Boy at Christ’s Christmas Tree”.
I took Tolstoy’s “Papa Panov’s Special Christmas” the first story to read because I remembered reading its Indonesian version in a children magazine when I was a kid. It tells about an old widower who lives alone because his children are grown up live far away. He can suffice his daily needs by making and repairing shoes for the people in his village. It’s now Christmas Eve. Stepping outside his shop, the happy children laugh and Christmas meals smell remind him of the old days when he had a happy family. Returning to his shop, he opens the old family Bible and reads the story of Joseph and Mary when they could find no room in Bethlehem. This drives him to wish they could have come to his village so that he can shelter them. Reading the part when the three wise men gave Jesus splendid gifts, he says he wants to give Jesus the best pair of shoes he ever made, baby shoes his daughter had worn. While he is sleeping, he dreams Jesus says that his wish to see Jesus will come true. Jesus will visit him tomorrow, but Papa Panov should look carefully because Jesus shall not tell him who He is.”
Waking up the next morning, Papa Panov sees a street sweeper is working early in such a cold winter morning. Moved by his hard work and miserable appearance, he invites him inside for a hot cup of coffee. Some moments later, a single mother walks down the street clutching her baby. She wants to go to the next village to work. Papa Panov invites them in, serves milk to the baby. Realizing the baby does not wear shoes, he gives the baby the shoes he has intended to give to Jesus. During the day Papa Panov keeps watching carefully so that he can recognize Jesus when he passes by. But there are only neighbors and beggars on the street. After he feeds the beggars, it is getting dark and Papa Panov takes a rest and thinks his dream was only a dream. But then he hears Jesus telling him …
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