Christmas in Yarragon
The Christmas Guest
As retold by Helen Steiner Rice
1. When I was a child I loved to hear, this story my Grandma told each year.
She told it in her native tongue. And I was very, very young…But yet this story seemed to be, filled, with wonderment for me. For in my childish heart there grew. The dream, that I might see him too. For he might call me, on his way. So I must watch for him each day.
And that is why the Christmas guest, is still the story I love best. And I retell it to you now.
For I can’t help, but feel somehow, that children everywhere should hear, the story Grandma told each year… For Christmas Day is doubly blest. When Jesus is Our Christmas Guest!
2. It happened one day at the year’s white end, two neighbours called on an old time friend. They found his shop so meagre and mean, yet made gay with a thousand boughs of green..
3. And Conrad was sitting with face a shine. When he suddenly he stopped as he stitched a twine, and said: Old friends, at dawn today. When the cock was crowing the night away! The Lord appeared in a dream to me. And said: “I am coming! your guest to be”…
4. So I’ve been busy with feet astir. Strewing my shop with branches of fir, the table is spread and the kettle is shined. And over the rafters the holly is twined.
5. And now I will wait for my lord to appear. And listen closely so I will hear. His step as he nears my humble place. And I open the door and look in his face.
6. So his friends went home and left Conrad alone, for this was the happiest day he had known, for, long since, his family has passed away. Andy Conrad had spent a sad Christmas day..
7. But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest. This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
8. And he listened with only joy in his heart. And with every sound he would rise with a start. And look for the Lord to be standing there in answer to his earnest prayer..
9. So he ran to the window after hearing a sound. But all that he saw on the snow covered ground was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn. And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.
10. So Conrad was touched and went to the door. And said: `Your feet must be frozen and sore. And I have some shoes in my shop for you. And a coat, that will keep you warmer too.
11. So, with a grateful heart the man went away, But Conrad noticed the time of day. He wondered what made the dear Lord so late. And how much longer he’d have to wait?
12. He heard a knock and ran to the door. But it was only a stranger once more. A bent, old crone with a shawl of black, a bundle of faggots piled on her bag. She asked for only a place to rest. But that was reserved for Conrad’s Great Guess. But her voice seemed to plead. Don’t send me away, Let me rest for a while on Christmas Day..
13 So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup.. And told her to sit at the table and sup.. But after she left he was filled with dismay.. For he saw that the hours where passing away.. And the Lord had not come as He said He would. And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
14. When, out of the stillness he heard a cry, Please help me! Tell me where am I? So again he opened his friendly door. And stood, disappointed as twice before. It was only a child who had wandered away. And was lost from her family on this Christmas day…
15. Again Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad, But he knew he should make this little chid glad.. So he called her in and wiped her tears’ and quieted all her childless fears.
16. Then he led her back to her home once more. But as he entered his own
darkened door. He knew the Lord was not coming today. For the hours of Christmas had passed away. So he went to his room and knelt to pray. And he said: `Dear Lord why did you delay? What kept you from coming to cal on me? I wanted so much your face to see…
17. When soft in the silence a voice he heard, lift up your head for I keep my word….Three times my shadow crossed your floor – Three times I came to your lonely door- For I was the beggar with bruised cold feet. I was the woman you gave to eat. And I was the chid on the homeless street.