Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author better known for writing War and Peace and Anna Karenina, also wrote short stories. One of these is titled, Papa Panov's Special Day.
Old Papa Panov, the Russian village shoemaker, was a widower whose children had long since moved away. It was Christmas Eve and as he settled into his big armchair, he read the Christmas story from the family Bible. He read that there was no room in the inn for the Christ child and commented that if He had come to his house he would provide shelter and warmth. He read of the Wise men bearing gifts and remembered the tiny pair of soft leather shoes he kept in a box on the shelf. He could also give a gift. Shortly after, he fell into a deep sleep and dreamt that Jesus would visit him the next day.
When Papa Panov awoke it was Christmas Day. He heated coffee on the charcoal stove and went to the window to look for his special Visitor. He saw the road sweeper, busy at work and told him to put down his broom and invited him inside to warm up and drink hot coffee. After the sweeper left he looked out the window again. This time he saw a young mother attempting to shield her baby from the cold. He invited her indoors and told her to sit in his armchair with the child to warm themselves by the fire. He heated milk for the baby and noticed the child had no shoes. He remembered the little shoes on the shelf and fetched them for the infant. They fit perfectly. After their departure he looked again for his special Guest, but saw only beggars on the street. He took them hot cabbage soup and bread to relieve their hunger.
As the winter dusk fell he sat down again in his armchair and was disappointed he had missed his special Guest. Then he thought he heard a voice - the voice in his dream saying, "I was hungry and you fed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was cold and you warmed me. I came to you today in every one of those you helped and welcomed."
The spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with all the secular trappings that have grown up around the holiday. It does, however, have everything to do with the One whose birth we celebrate, He who showed us how to live and love.
Thank you for your valued business that has contributed to a successful year at Jos. T. Fewkes & Co. We appreciate every time you contacted us for quality electrical products in 2012. Hopefully we've earned your confidence with every opportunity.
I trust you will have a wonderful and meaningful holiday and a happy and healthy New Year.
Raymond E. Gillin