Baboushka and the Three Kings
Once upon a time, many, many years ago, on a winter’s evening, the cold wind was blowing the snow across the ground so hard that you could barely see. On that night there was an old woman who was snug in her little house, sitting in front of the fireplace. She had been cleaning her house all day, and now she was tired. Her name was Baboushka.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock, knock, knock, on the door. Who could that be, in the middle of the storm? Who was out there in that wind? Baboushka got up from her chair and very slowly cracked open the door. Bang! The door blew back into the wall, pushed by the strong, cold wind. In the doorway stood three kings. They were magnificent! They had beautiful crowns on their heads, sparkling with diamonds and rubies. They wore gold and purple robes, with fur collars. What were they doing at the little house of poor Baboushka? "Oh," she said. "Oh, oh," she said.
What would you say if you opened the door and there were three kings? Yes, well, that’s what she finally said, too. And then she invited them into her warm little house, because it was so cold and snowy outside, and they were being blown about by the wind.
"We are looking for a baby," they said, "for a baby who is going to be a king. Do YOU know where he is?"
"No," Baboushka said, "but you are welcome to stay here overnight, in my tiny little home. I don’t have much to offer you, but I will share what I have, and it is warm here, out of the cold wind."
So the three kings spent the night with Baboushka, and late into the night they sat with her in front of the fire and told her the story of how they were following a star which would lead them to the new king, to a baby, who was Jesus.
"Don’t you want to join us and follow the star to the baby?" the three kings asked her.
"Oh yes," Baboushka said, "I, too, want to find that baby who brings God’s love into the world. But I have so much to do... the baking to get done, and more cleaning and scrubbing and dusting!.. How can I go?"
It was early the next morning when the three kings were ready to leave. It was cold and the wind was still blowing. "Are you coming with us, Baboushka?" they asked.
"Yes, I’m coming," Baboushka answered, "but I can’t leave until the house is absolutely clean."
The three kings said, "If you cannot come with us now, we must leave and follow the star. We must find the baby."
So they opened the door, and went out into the cold wind. And they were gone. Baboushka spent the day scrubbing and dusting and washing and cleaning until her little house sparkled. Then she searched through her house and found a few small gifts that she wanted to give to the baby. She put them in a basket. Then Baboushka put on her faded coat, and her scarf on her head and, holding the basket, went out into the cold to follow the tracks of the three kings. But the wind was blowing so hard that the tracks were gone, and she couldn’t see which way they had traveled.
"Have you seen the three kings?" she asked. "Have you seen the little baby?" But no one knew which way to go. And all she heard was the wind... She searched and searched... she looked and looked... and they say that she is looking still.
In a country called Russia, they say that at Christmastime, Baboushka comes to every house, looking for the three kings and for the baby, and she brings a small gift from her basket for every child in that house. Then she disappears into the quiet night like the wind.