Here is Part I of a variation of one of my favorite Christmas stories, “Where Love Is, God Is“, written by Leo Tolstoy in 1885. Paul Thompson, who adapted it from Leo Tolstoy, wrote this particular retelling:
“It was Christmas Eve. In a small Russian village, excited children were playing in the streets. Down the street shuffled an old shoemaker. He waved at the children as he made his way to his small shop on the corner.
Everyone loved the kind old shoemaker. He went inside and set to work making and mending shoes.
The old shoemaster stopped and stood in the window of his shop. He listened to the squeals of laughter as the children played, but his thoughts were far away.
He did not have a family, and on Christmas Day he would be all alone.
He sighed, picked a big leather-bound book from a shelf, and rested in his big old chair. He ran his fingers along the lines of the book. It was the story of Christmas. He read how the Wise Men had brought gifts for Jesus-the best gifts they could offer. He scratched his head, looked round his little room and thought, “If Jesus visited me, what would I be able to give Him?” Then he settled back in his chair, pulled up his favorite blanket and before very long, the warmth of the fire made him drowsy.
Outside, the children returned to their homes. A small group of children huddled together. They did not have a warm home to go to. They did not have parents to care for them. They were orphans. Slowly they made their way to the cold, empty orphanage and huddled together to keep warm.
Across the street from the orphanage, the old shoemaker was snoring gently. Suddenly he heard a voice in the room. “Dear old shoemaster, you were wondering what you could give Me. Tonight I am going to visit your village. Look out for me. I shall not say who I am.”
The old shoemaker jumped to his feet and rubbed his eyes. Jesus was coming to visit! What could he give Him? He was sure Jesus would like a hot drink on such a cold evening. So, he lit his stove and put a kettle of water on to boil. He was sure Jesus would like something to eat.
He looked in the larder and there was a fresh loaf of bread and soup ready for warming. When Jesus came, he could invite Him to sit in his chair, with his warm blanket around Him, and give Him a hot drink, soup, and fresh bread to eat.
Tomorrow would be Christmas Day and he so wanted to give Jesus a special gift, but what could a poor shoemaker give Jesus? All of a sudden he knew. He could make Jesus a pair of his finest shoes. But what size were Jesus’ feet? He would need to make a pair of his finest shoes in every size, and Jesus could have the pair of shoes that fitted Him best!”……to be continued in Part II.