Christmas Around the Word – Russia
Papa Panov’s Special Day (adapted from the original by Leo Tolstoy, retold by Mig Holden and illustrated by Nathalie Vilain)
For ages 6-12+
Today, we head to a small village in Russia, on a very cold winter’s day…
Ok, ok, I know I keep saying that this book or that book is a favorite, but this book IS definitely at the top of my list. I have never listened to this story or read it aloud without tearing up. Let me put it this way: if I could only pick one Christmas book to read, this one would be it. There are several versions, but I love the text and simple illustrations of this edition.
An old, lonely shoemaker closes up his shop on Christmas Eve in a small village in Russia, makes a pot of coffee and reads the Christmas story. He falls asleep in his chair, and Jesus appears to him in a dream saying:
“You have been wishing that you could see me, Papa Panov.” he said kindly, “then look for me tomorrow. It will be Christmas Day and I will visit you. But look carefully, for I shall not tell you who I am.”
Throughout the day, various villagers and travelers pass by his house, and he reaches out and helps each and everyone of them despite his own loneliness and poverty – a place by the fire, a hot cup of coffee, a bowl of soup, a small pair of shoes to a baby… But as the sun begins to set and Jesus has not come, Papa Panov is disappointed. Where is Jesus? Why did he not come?
What happens that Christmas day is a beautiful reminder, through story, of what God calls us to do for “the least of these”.
This is the best version (that I could find) of the story on youtube if you have internet access: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-5SYp2PvYRE.