Book Review: A Retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s – Papa Panov’s Special Day

Hello, Friends! I hope that you are all having a great day! Before you all say anything, I know that I said that I would be posting on the Mandalorian this week, but it is Christmas time, the season of surprises, so I decided to post on a fantastical Christmas book that I discovered just this past week during our family’s evening time of Advent.

The story that I heard was a retold version of Leo Tolstoy’s classic. Below is the version I heard:

The illustrations in this book are amazing, and Papa Panov is the perfect Russian Grandfather figure. Not to mention this is a great book to read during Advent! 😁

Before we jump in, I need to give my disclaimer. This post will have spoilers for Leo Tolstoy’s Papa Panov’s Special Day and the Bible.

Now without further ado, let’s jump in! Allons-y!

The Story:

The story circulates, of course, around Papa Panov an old Russian shoemaker, living in a small Russian village. It is winter, and Christmas is just around the corner.

He is described as being a happy man, waving to all those who pass by his shop with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. Humbly, he lives in a small house with only a bed, a stove, an oil lamp, and a great wicker chair, thriving off of cabbage soup, bread, and coffee.

However, as Christmas time grows closer, the twinkle in his eye fades, and he is reminded of the passing of his dear wife. Nothing makes this remembrance sting his heart more than Christmas, but not only the thoughts of his wife make his heart sting. He also remembers his children that have all grown up and moved far away from their old Papa Panov. Now, he is alone on Christmas Eve, but he does not wallow in his sorrow. Instead he picks up his big brown Bible and begins to read.

Line by line he goes through the cherished story of the first Christmas. As he reads he thinks what he could give the Christ child if he came to his house, or how he could show friendly Russian hospitality to Mary and Joseph.

“Dearie, Dearie….if they had come here, they could have slept on my good bed, and I would have covered the boy with my patchwork quilt. I could have shared my bread and soup with them and played games with the little child and tickled his toes to make him laugh…”

Papa Panov’s Special Day Pg. 11

However, after some time Papa falls asleep, and the spectacles slip off his nose. Suddenly he is awakened by a voice:

“Papa Panov,” came the voice again. “You wished that I had come to your shop, and you could give me a present. Look out from dawn until dusk, and I will come.”

Papa Panov’s Special Day Pg. 15

Thus, the next day, Christmas day, Papa Panov looks out his window from dawn until dusk searching and waiting for Jesus to come and visit him in his shop. Throughout the day, he shows hospitality to a roadsweeper, and woman and her child, children, beggars, and grannies. He invites them into his shop to warm up out of the cold, to have a mug of hot coffee, or to have a bowl of soup, but to his dismay Jesus never comes…or so he thinks.

That night Papa Panov sadly begins to cry, thinking to himself that the voice must have been a dream, but oh how badly he wanted the voice to be real, and yet before his eyes Papa sees the people that he helped all lined up in a row. They ask him if he had seen them, and again the voice comes to him:

“I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me water. I was cold and you took me in. All those people you have helped today—when you were helping them, it was the same as if you were helping me!”

“Dearie, dearie….So he came after all.”

Papa Panov’s Special Day Pg. 30 & 31

This is how the story ends. Papa Panov sits back into his big wicker chair satisfied with a wide smile on his face as the sparkle or twinkle returns to his eyes.

The Conclusion:

This retelling of Papa Panov’s Special Day is a heartwarming tale, and a good reminder of the meaning of Christmas: giving and serving others.

What I love about this story so much is how it illustrates how serving and giving of oneself to people without hesitation, just as Papa Panov did, is doing the same to Jesus. When we serve and give, we are serving and giving to Jesus. All around us, high and low, Jesus can be seen inside each and every individual person.

I believe that we can all take a lesson from Papa Panov and pick up our Bible in the quiet because it is in the quiet that we can hear from our Sovereign Creator the best, just like Papa Panov did on Christmas Eve.

This Christmas, I urge you all, my friends, to look inside each and every person you meet and find Jesus inside of them and give and serve, just like Jesus did for us, without hesitation, for in serving others we are serving Him. Christ is our maker. We are made in his image, so a piece of him is inside all of us in all of our hearts while in some it can be seen easier and others it takes a bit more searching, we all have it.

Well, that is all for now, friends! I hope that you enjoyed this post and will now go and read about my Russian Grandpa, Papa Panov. Either a retelling or the Tolstoy classic, it doesn’t matter. Let us all have Papa Panov and the gift of servitude resonate in our hearts this Christmas!

Have a Happy Christmas, friends!

Until next time,

Time Lady of Coruscant 😉