Christmas is a time for giving. There are numerous stories and legends of people who have immortalised this tradition. All of you have heard of Santa Claus, but have you heard of Baboushka?

Old Baboushka lived in a very big house in a small town in Russia. She lived all alone. All day long, she dusted and swept and scrubbed her house. She cleaned the glasses and the grills. She weeded the garden. She worked so hard that she did not have time to even look out of her window.

One winter night, it snowed hard in the village. A cold wind whistled and blew hard, and sheets of snow blurred everything in sight. Every one stayed indoors, and huddled around their warm fireplaces.

So did Baboushka. A cheerful fire warmed her big living room where she sat saying her prayers.

Visitors

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Pulling her shawl and scarf tightly around her, Baboushka went to open the door. Who could it be at this time of a cold, snowy night?

They were three men, dressed in rich robes. “We are kings from the East,” they said to her. “We are going to Bethlehem to honour Christ the Baby, who has just been born. Come, join us!”

Baboushka looked at them. She looked at the dark snow-covered road and houses. She shivered in the cold. “N..nnot now! It is too cold,” she said. “But please come in for a cup of tea.”

The kings entered. She made them sit by the fireplace. She gave them hot tea and fresh cake. “Thank you, Baboushka,” said the kings. “Now we must leave. Once again we ask you, come, join us!”

Baboushka looked around. There were the tea things to put away, the table to be cleared, the oven to be cleaned, and the fireplace to be straightened. “N..no, not now,” she said. “I have work to do.”

The three men left. As they turned the corner, they again called her: “Come, join us, Baboushka!” Baboushka looked around. There was the snow to be swept, and the tiles to be fixed when the wind stopped. “N..no..,” said Baboushka. “Not now. I have work to do.”

But that night, Baboushka could not sleep. She thought of the three kings. She heard their voices saying again and again, “Come, join us!” She dreamt that Christ the baby was calling her. Maybe she should have gone with them!Then Baboushka decided to set out for Bethlehem.

Next morning, she put aside her mop and duster, her pots and pails. She filled a basket with little gifts for the baby. Then she left her house in search of Christ the Child.

But she did not know the way to Bethlehem. She walked and walked and walked. She went down this road and that. She asked people along the way. And they said, “Further on, further on!” But though she followed the wave of their hands, she never did reach Bethlehem.

They say Old Baboushka is still wandering through the world in search of Christ the Child. Whenever she sees a child on her way, she eagerly peers into his face and says, “You are my Child Christ!” She always has a little gift for every child she meets.

Even today, every Christmas, children in Russia eagerly wait for Old Baboushka to come their way with a gift.

A Christmas legend from Russia

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