Christmas Tapestry

Author and Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

2bc0fd9679af75f090e7a4173d5cc366If you have ever refinished an antique piece of furniture, taken pity on a scraggly stray animal, or refused to throw away that thread-bare quilt because Grandma made it by hand – then you truly understand the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

There was a lesson that Jonathan Jefferson Weeks was about to learn, in a most unusual way.  Here in Detroit, Michigan,  his father’s new church was practically falling down. It was rickety and old.  But Jonathan’s father already saw the potential “beauty,” saying, “There’s hard work that is going to take to repair and rebuild this church. When you see what we’re going to do, your spirits will be lifted.  I predict that by, let’s see… this very Christmas, the church will be something that we will all be proud of!”

Weeks stretch into months and just before Christmas the church is beautifully restored; ready for the painting of the Lord on the sacristy wall.  Then the unthinkable happens . . . a raging blizzard causes a water leak, completely ruining the entire sacristy wall!  With no time to make repairs, Jonathan and his father slog through freezing snow, in search of Christmas decorations.  And there, in the window of an odd little antique shop, is a beautiful old Christmas tapestry, just the size needed to cover the damaged sacristy wall.

Jonathan and his father meet an old lady on their way home on the bus.  Stopping off at their home, the old Jewish woman watches as they hang the tapestry cloth over the stained wall.  The old lady gasped.  “I made this!” she said in a whisper. Tears streamed down her face.  “In Germany…almost sixty years ago. I sewed it with my own hands.”

She goes on to tell of being separated from her young husband during the war, never seeing him since.  Will the beauty of the Christmas tapestry be able to mend the scars of the old woman’s life as it has the scars on the wall of the church?  Christmas is often a time of special miracles, isn’t it?

Mary Kline

1. What did Jonathan’s father mean when he said, “We don’t always understand, the universe unfolds as it should”?

2.  Why do you think the old Jewish woman chose to leave her tapestry with Jonathan’s family?

3.  Can you name a time when something seemed to go wrong and yet something good came out of it? What lesson do you think Jonathan learned?