The Heavenly Christmas Tree by Fyodor Dostoyevsky


The Heavenly Christmas Tree by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Published: Jan 1876
Length: 12pp. | 10 mins (audiobook)
Original Language: Russian (Мальчик у Христа на ёлке)

I really want to read all of Dostoyevsky's books, it's something I plan to work on doing over the next couple of years so prepare for a lot more posts about his books. Luckily all of his books are public domain and it's very easy to access PDFs and audiobook versions for free everywhere. I admire him a lot as a person as I know a lot about his life, however before this year i'd never read any of his books. What I admire most about his writing is the way he uses stories to explore religious truths, as well as exposing so much about human nature.

I have decided to start with his short stories and thus far I have read four. I was going to write a little bit about all of them but I've decided I only want to write about one: The Heavenly Christmas Tree.

I was moved to tears by this story and couldn't quite understand why, I then went to read reviews of it on goodreads and one of them highlighted for me what was so moving about this story, it simply said:
"Dostoyevsky's heart for the rejected and poor is clear in this short story" and I couldn't agree more. 

This is the story of a little boy and his mother living in squalor, renting a corner of a cramped room in St Petersburg. The little boy leaves the room for some respite and finds himself shunned by people on the streets. We then see him being invited by a stranger to enjoy a Christmas tree and there is his mother and many other poor women and children surrounding this stranger and being welcomed by him whilst the children also wipe away the tears from their mothers eyes. It is later revealed that the little boy died out in the cold along with his mother, all of this is taking place in heaven and the stranger is Christ. 

The compassion Dostoyevsky shows for this little boy and other such children and their single mothers is beautiful. The portrayal of them in heaven surrounded by a merciful Christ who looks past whatever sinful lives they lead or unfortunate circumstances they fell into that lead to their destituteness is so moving. It is such a message of hope and love and paints a truly beautiful picture of the indiscriminate welcoming love and embrace of Christ.

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