The Wooden Shoe Christmas
Long ago, there lived a poor little boy in France named Pierre. He lived with his aunt, who was often very cross to him. His Aunt was quite wealthy - yet she was a greedy miser and hoarded her money. She wore old clothes, being too cheap to pay for the French fashions like other women wore. She kept her house cold - being too cheap to pay for extra coal to heat the house. The meals served in the house were simple, and there was often not enough to eat for a growing boy like Pierre.
The Aunt was even cheap with the clothes Pierre wore. The young boy dressed in a thin coat year round. When winter came, he had to wear the same thin coat, sometimes padded with newspapers on the inside to help him keep warm.
The other boys wore fine fur caps, heavy coats and warm mittens. They also wore heavy boots. But all Pierre had on his feet was a pair of heavy woolen socks and his heavy wooden shoes, called sabots. Pierre attended school like all of the other children. At school, he was frequently laughed at by the other boys who had so much more than him.
As Christmas time came closer each year - the other boys at school especially liked to poke fun of his name. They sometimes called him Pierre Noel! In France, the children were told that Pierre Noel (Father Christmas) brought gifts to all of the children. The children placed their shoes on the floor next to the fireplace on Christmas Eve. Then, they woke up on Christmas morning to find presents left by Pierre Noel in their shoes and on the floor by the fireplace. The boys talked about the Christmas presents they hoped to get and the fine Christmas dinners their mothers would be preparing.
The teasing about his sharing the name of Father Christmas did not bother Pierre. It excited him to think about having toys and new, warm clothing. When Pierre told his Aunt what he heard the other boys saying about getting presents, she scolded him and told him not to expect anything.
"You should be less greedy!" she told him. "Be grateful for what you have! If Pierre Noel comes to this home, he will leave a bundle of switches to spank a boy like you who doesn't know when he has it so good." Pierre felt very empty and lonely inside.
His loneliness left him for a time on Christmas Eve when the schoolmaster took Pierre and the other boys to hear the beautiful Christmas Eve music at church. The altar was lit brightly with Christmas candles, and the church was warm and comfortable, unlike his cold home. His heart became warm when he heard the choir singing songs about Jesus Christ who was born on Christmas day. He heard the message that was preached to the congregation about the greatest gift that was ever given - the birth of the Christ child on Christmas day and the forgiveness of sin that Jesus brought to mankind. He heard about the three wise men and the gifts they brought to the Christ child.
"I wish I could give a present to anyone," thought Pierre, especially tonight. But he had nothing to give away. The service ended after dark, and Pierre was on his way out of the church walking alone as he usually did. As he walked along, he saw someone sleeping in one of the doorways of the church. When he quietly approached and looked closely, he saw a little child younger than himself with a face so innocent.
The little child lay sleeping without even shoes on his feet. Pierre watched all the well dressed boys walk on by without stopping.
Something inside him would not allow Pierre to go by without leaving something for the boy. He took off one of his wooden shoes and laid it by the child. Maybe Pierre Noel or a Christmas Angel will come by and leave presents in the shoe he thought all the way home. He walked quickly because the cold snow was casing a burning sensation on his shoeless foot.
When Pierre entered the house, his Aunt saw right away that he was missing one of his wooden shoes. "Where is your other shoe?" she demanded. When he told her, she called him worthless and said that's why I never give you anything since you'd give it all away. She sent him to bed without supper and told him to leave his other shoe by the fireplace so Pierre Noel could leave a bundle of switches to spank him with.
Pierre followed his Aunt's directions and went to bed. But instead of sleeping, he stayed awake all night worrying. He wasn't worried about getting switches for Christmas. But, he was worried about about the boy he had seen outside the church. He finally fell asleep in the early hours of the morning - only to be awakened a few minutes later by a shout from his Aunt.
Pierre ran down the cold steps and saw not one, but two wooden shoes in front of the fireplace. The floor next to them held a new coat, a hat, a scarf and gloves along with more toys that he had every owned in his life. And, there were NO SWITCHES! His Aunt was speechless for the first time ever. "Where did all of this come from?" asked Pierre.
Then out of nowhere they both heard a voice that said, "Pierre, just as you have done a kindness to a little child, so shall kindness be done to you."
I am certain that Pierre continued to be a good boy and that he grew to be a caring and loving man. I don't know if his Aunt changed and let herself become more happy by becoming a more loving and giving person. We can only hope she did.
Note: Readers, please know that this story was originally written by Francois Copp?e in the late 1800's. The original title was The Wooden Shoes of Little Wolff. Dr. Lockett adapted the story and wrote it in its present form.
Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to Mike@mikelockett.com in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs.