The Christmas Cobbler

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By: Jewell Burrow

My mother, born in 1920, wrote this quaint children’s story. What a gift to find it again. She would love knowing that you read it to your children this year.

Once upon a time, there was an old cobbler named Peter. Day by day, he worked away at his bench, a-tap-a-tap,a-tap-a-tap, trying to make each pair of shoes better than the shoes he had made the day before. Night by night, he put away his leather, hammer, and awl, ate his frugal supper, read his Bible, and went to bed.

One Christmas Eve, Peter must have been unusually tired, for as he sat beside his table reading his Bible, he fell asleep. In his slumber, he had a wonderful dream. In his dream, he thought the Lord Christ Himself came to him and said: “Peter, I have noticed how faithful you are. I have seen how hard you work to make each new pair of shoes better than the last. I know how much you love my Word and try to follow it. Tomorrow, Peter, I shall come to be your guest.” 

Early on Christmas Day, Peter rose from his bed and cleaned out the ashes from the fireplace to make a good fire. He swept every tiny bit of leather from his floor and dusted every speck of dust from the bench, table, and chair. I must have everything shining and clear for the dear Lord Christ when he comes,” Peter said.

Then, when everything was in perfect order, Peter went out to the woodshed and brought in a great armful of timber. “I must have a warm fire for the dear Lord Christ when He comes,” he thought. 

When the woodbox was full, Peter washed his hands and set a pitcher of milk and a loaf of snowy bread on his table. “I must have food to offer the dear Lord Christ when He comes,” he thought.

With nothing more to do in preparation, Peter sat down at his bench to wait for the dear Lord Christ to come. As he waited, he worked away with a-tap-a-tap, a-tap-a-tap, trying to make this pair of shoes better than any shoes he had ever made.

Peter had not long to wait before he heard a faint tap-tap-tap at his door. “Tis the dear Lord Christ!” he cried and hurried to open the door. Peter ran to the doorway with his heart full of welcome and his face wreathed in smiles. But when he opened the door, there stood not the Lord Christ but a poor, bent old man, leaning on his stick and trembling from age.

Good morrow, Peter,” said the old man. “Tis a bitter day without, and the wind blows cold. May I come in and warm by your crackling fire?

Come in! Come in!” cried Peter. “I am glad to have thee!” And he threw fresh wood onto the fire until the flames crackled cheerily. As the fire blazed brightly, Peter mused to himself, “That is the wood I brought for the Lord Christ, but I can’t let His elderly ones go cold.”

The old man held his hands to the flames and toasted his feet until he was warmed and his heart was comforted. When the old man prepared to go, Peter noticed the thin coat that covered his poor, bent back. Thinking of the warm, extra coat hanging on a peg behind the door, Peter quickly brought it to the old man and held it out for him to put on. “Take it, friend,” said Peter. “Thy need is greatern than mine.”

Putting on the coat, the old man thanked Peter kindly. As the old man hobbled to the door, he turned and said, “Goodbye, Peter. The Lord Christ bless thee.” Peter sat down again at his bench to wait for the dear Lord Christ to come. As he waited, he worked away with a-tap-a-tap, a-tap-a-tap, trying to make this pair of shoes better than any shoes he had ever made.

At last, when the sun cast short shadows at noonday, he heard a soft tap-tap-tap at his door. “Oh, now the dear Lord Christ has come!” thought Peter. He ran to the doorway with his heart full of welcome, and his face wreathed in smiles. But when he opened the door, there stood not the Lord Christ but a poor, cold mother carrying a baby in her arms, held close under her shawl.

Good morrow, Peter,” said the mother. “Tis a bitter day without, and the wind blows cold. May I warm the child and myself by your crackling fire?

Come in! Come in!” cried Peter. “I am glad to have thee!” And he threw fresh wood onto the fire until the flames crackled cheerily. Seeing the baby’s pinched, blue face, Peter walked over to the table and poured the child a mug of fresh, sweet milk. Then, seeing the hungry look in the mother’s eyes, he brought another cup and a thick slice of snowy bread. As the visitors ate eagerly, Peter mused to himself, “That is the milk and bread I prepared for the Lord Christ, but I can’t let His little ones go cold.”

The woman and her baby ate until warmed, and their hearts were comforted. She thanked Peter and started on her way. As she walked to the door, she turned and said, “Goodbye, Peter. The Lord Christ bless thee.” 

Peter washed the mugs and put the table in order, then sat down again at his bench to wait for the dear Lord Christ to come. As he waited, he worked away with a-tap-a-tap, a-tap-a-tap, trying to make this pair of shoes better than any shoes he had ever made.

The hours crept slowly, and Peter wondered when the dear Lord Christ would come. At last, about mid-afternoon, he once more heard a soft tap-tap-tap at his door. “Oh, now the dear Lord Christ has come!” thought Peter. He hurried to open the door, his heart full of welcome, and his face wreathed in smiles. But when he opened the door, there stood not the Lord Christ but a lame, old woman, faint from hunger and stiff from cold. 

Good morrow, Peter,” quavered the lame old woman. “Tis a bitter day without, and the wind blows cold. May I come in and warm by your crackling fire?”

Come in! Come in!” cried Peter. “I am glad to have thee!” And he threw fresh wood onto the fire until the flames crackled cheerily. Then, seeing the hungry look in her eyes, he poured out the last of the milk and brought her the rest of the snowy bread. As she ate eagerly, Peter thought to himself, “Now I shall have nothing for the Lord Christ when He comes, but I can’t let His lame ones go cold.”

At last, the lame old woman was warmed and fed, and her heart was comforted. She, too, thanked Peter and started on her way. As she passed through the door, she turned and said, “Goodbye, Peter. The Lord Christ bless thee.”

Peter sat at his bench once more, but he waited for the dear Lord Christ with a sober heart this time. The hours dragged on until sunset, and Peter wondered if he had been mistaken. “Would the Lord Christ truly come?

But at that very moment, the last long ray of the setting sun crept through his window and lit the room with its golden light. There beside him, amid the light, stood the dear Lord Christ Himself!

Peter,” He said, “Did you think I would not come? Three times this day have I been your Christmas guest. I was the bent old man, trembling from age. I was the starving mother with her hungry child. I was the poor, lame woman stiff from the cold. And Peter, dear Peter, inasmuch as you have given shelter, warmth, and food to even the least, you have done it unto Me.”