Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Wax Angel - 2nd Sunday in Advent

Michael Geuss


after Leonid Andrejew
from the Russian

There were times when Sascha was a stubborn little boy, wilful and disobedient. He didn’t want to get up in the morning, he didn’t want to wash in cold water, he didn’t want to go to school. Being only eight years old, he wasn’t sure how to go about getting his own way, he therefore did as he was told but he did it badly, lazily. When it came to  Christmas and the end of year school report, his was not good at all.

Sascha went to his father, whom he loved very much. He hoped that father would not be so very angry with him.

“Sascha”, father said, “why ever are you such a stubborn boy? And look, the Sweschnikows have sent you an invitation to the gift giving ceremony under their Christmas tree.

The Sweschnikows were rich people who paid for Sascha’s schooling. Before Sascha’s father fell ill and had been retired on a pitiful pension he had worked for them.

Sascha really didn’t want to go, they were sure to ask how he was getting on at school. But his mother insisted and his father said “do go, Sascha, perhaps they will give you a small present for me, it has been a week since I last had tobacco for my pipe”. Sascha went.

The children were shouting with excitement and running about madly before they were allowed into the hall where the gifts were to be distributed. Then the doors opened and, holding their breath in anticipation, eyes wide open, they ran in and came to where a wonderfully tall Christmas tree stood, gleaming with decorations and blazing candles.

The children circled the tree, admiring the many beautiful things hanging from its branches. Suddenly, Sascha stopped. High up, near the top, he had seen a wax angel, transparent wings trembling a little in the warmth of the burning candles. The angel looked as if it would fly off at any time.

Sascha stared for a long time.  He wanted the angel, wanted it for his own.
In spite of being a shy boy in such splendid surroundings, he ran to the lady of the house.

“Please, let me have the angel, O, please do”, he pleaded.

“Dear boy, that is not possible, everything has to remain on the tree until New Year’s Day. Only then will the decorations be taken down and given to the children”.

Sascha’s heart sank. “O please”, he begged, “ I promise to be good from now on, I will do my work and I will never be disobedient again”.

The lady smiled but remained firm.

Sascha changed tack. He fell on his knees. “I must have the angel”, he sobbed.

The lady grew disturbed. “You silly boy”, she said, “it is only  God to whom you pray on your knees; get up and you shall have the angel”.

When Sascha held the angel in his hands, he looked up at her, smiling blissfully through his tears. He ran from the hall, found his coat and made for home.

His mother had gone to bed, tired out by the hard cleaning work she did.
His father was waiting for him in the kitchen.

“Look how beautiful the angel is”, he said to his father.

“Yes”, his father replied, “there is something very special about him; watch out, or he might fly away”.

They took the angel and put its string over a nail by the stove.

As they sat and looked, the angel seemed to change, grow larger and more luminous; it’s wings trembled more than ever. . . . . . . . . the room and everything in it sank into the background, the smoking lamp, the rough furniture, the grimy wallpaper, all vanished. The old man once again inhabited a world where he was strong and able to work, a time when life was good, bright and full of hope . . . . . . .  the angel  had come to him and sent a ray of light into his grey, monotonous existence. Next to the old man sat the boy at the beginning of life, his eyes shining, as happily lost in dreams as the old man. Presence and future disappeared. The angel absorbed Sascha’s nebulous dreams of beauty, hope and the yearning he carried in his soul, absorbed them and gave them back, radiating light and warmth. The wings trembled mysteriously.

Sascha and the old man slept.

The angel hung on his nail. Gradually the heat of the stove softened the wax and the first heavy drops fell. Thick rivulets of wax ran down his legs and feet, and, finally, the whole angel quivered as if he were really about to fly, and fell on to the hot plate of the stove. A cockroach came to investigate the shapeless mass and hastily withdrew.

Morning entered the room, the milkman clattered his cans in the street – the angel had gone.

The angel had gone, but it did not matter. His brief existence had given great happiness to two human beings for this one night.

translation USW


  1. A gentle and perfect story at this occasionally raucous time of year . Thankyou !

  2. Yet another beautiful post with an important message. Friko, you seem to be bringing me Christmas.

  3. thankyou for sharing this lovely story friko! steven

  4. We need some of the spirit of this story to save Christmas from becoming a festival of greed.

  5. Very thought provoking, What langauge was it written in originally Russian or German I suspect? It isnt a story I know and it is always good to learn new things. ( Of course had it been an English Victorian one the angel would have melted started a fire killed the old man with his toxic fumes and Sacha would have ended up alone in the workhouse which we would have been assurred was the right and just reward of theft of the Angel in the first place!!

  6. Thanks for this Christmas story, Friko. I have been thinking of stories I can tell my four-year old grandson when he visits over the holidays, and this one seems perfect for the occasion.

  7. Why have I never heard this story? It's lovely.

  8. A beautiful reminder that we should enjoy every moment while we can because those moments are fleeting. I forget that a lot. Thanks for the lovely story.

  9. Oh this is so sad. I had two angels made from chalk once upon a time. Both lost their wings and then completely fell apart suffering from the many times they toppled off my dresser. Thanks for evoking an old memory.

  10. What a beautiful and poignant story. I needed that today - the cold is starting to get to me. I'll think of angels and might get the nativity set out early this year. Thank you.

  11. Thanks for the inspirational Christmas story, one that brings hope, melting from one small angel, yet linguering through time.

    How's the wrist doing?

  12. Thank you!
    Just been catching up with your advent calendar - every day different and thought provoking.

  13. A sweet story, though I'll confess it became a nail-biter for me when they nailed the angel to the stove . . .

  14. Wunderschöne Geschichte, vielen Dank hat doch der Glanz des Engels auch meine Stube erhellt.

  15. Friko - what a lovely story that is!

  16. Hope springs eternal in the human heart,
    or we would like to think so, and even
    the ragged, the wretched, the selfish,
    the lost ones are entitled--to happiness,
    to love, to respect, to Christmas.

    Thanks for being the bearer of this
    calendar, reminding us about the
    true reason for the season.

  17. wirklich, eine schöne Geschichte! Es macht Freude, Dir zuzuhören und den stimmungsvollen Märchen und Sagen zu folgen!

  18. Ah how lovely, how ethereal this story is. Reminds us to stay in the now, always.

  19. I had not heard this angel story before, thanks for sharing Friko.

  20. Oh Friko, what a lovely story- thanks for sharing!!

  21. What a lovely, sad story. I've never heard of it before.


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