Christmas is coming and once again Al Pascià has dipped into a dream to create a festive mood for everyone. So, fill your pipe, light up your imagination and gently drift with us into the Christmas mood with this Christmas tale. Who knows, you may see the world in a new light.
ONE OF BEFANA’S HAIRY MOLES TO BE AUCTIONED FOR CHARITY
On 7th January perhaps the oddest auction in history will take place. The best elf plastic surgeon has been asked to remove a mole from Befana’s chin for a good cause, and the proceeds from the auction will go to the Post Owls pension fund.
The night between January 5th and 6th will be the last for the hairy mole on Befana’s chin, the last ride on the broomstick, and the last trip to thousands of children’s houses. This is what Befana has decided, following a long career as the famous “old woman” who stuffs with sweets stockings hanging up by chimneys throughout the world. The operation will be performed as day surgery. “There’s nothing to worry about”, Silyconir, the elf plastic surgeon assures us. “Within a few hours she’ll be as right as rain and back to work, just a few ounces lighter.” Although her toothless smile won’t be as unsightly as before, Befana doesn’t care since the money raised will go to a good cause. After a brief chat with her we realized that she deeply cares about pension rights for Post Owls, which prompted her decision. An American magnate has already offered a million dollars to own the mole. If it ends up in his hands, he has assured the auctioneers that he will donate it to the Guggenheim museum so that it belongs to everyone. One thing is for sure: if she were ever to think of straightening her crooked nose, we would ask her to think again and listen to her followers, who seem to be increasing by the minute. What next? A calendar for the new year of Befana after a complete makeover?
Santa has just finished reading this article in the North Pole Times. Every morning, with a mug of coffee into which he dunks fragrant ginger doughnuts made by Bakeoff, the gnome help, Santa reads the newspaper in peace and quiet. This is before he meets with the elves to see where they are with the preparation of the gifts, before the reindeers in the stables noisily demand to be fed, before his computer churns out millions of emails sent from all over the world. Still in his slippers, he sits at the kitchen table and enjoys this moment of peace with some juicy news tidbits to keep him company. However, this morning the tidbit of news he has just read has upset him somewhat. He knows how things go. If a journalist has taken the trouble to end his article with the hope that Befana resists having a complete makeover, it means that a rumour has been going around about it.
And what’s this about followers? Just then Santa’s trusty helpers knock on the door and it is time to start working. So he leaves the newspaper on the table, puts on his black boots and heavy jacket and heads for the workshop. However, before leaving he adjusts his trousers. Sometimes he thinks that he can see a lot more than just his feet sticking out from under his generous belly, but it is just a fleeting thought, as his waist size is more or less the same as usual, and it would be a disaster if he lost weight. On the other hand, his beard is out of control and needs trimming – when he has a moment he’ll go to Figaroquà, the elf barber. There’s so much to do during the days leading up to Christmas Eve and Santa is so busy with preparations that he forgets what he read that morning. Round lunchtime he sees some scenes that would have normally made him suspicious, but as he is so busy he doesn’t take much notice. Comet, the reindeer has taken photos of his carrots before eating them and then posted them on Instagram tagged with #foodporn. Rudolph and Dasher have taken a selfie and Rudolph wants to use the filter to touch up his red nose before posting the snapshot. Finally, Santa bumps into Armanyr, the elf surgeon who looks after his wardrobe, who tells him that he will come round to revamp his image and that this year skinny trousers are in and maybe instead of boots what about a pair of loafers, which is so hipster. Santa has too much on his mind to see that there is something not quite right in the reality surrounding him. As he enters his house a marvelous aroma of roast with rosemary and fried mushrooms wafts towards him, thanks to skillful Bakeoff, whose duty is to keep his generous figure the way it is and manages to do so exceedingly well, so much so that Santa can think of nothing but filling up his belly and doesn’t notice the advertisement on the back page of the North Pole Times that Bakeoff has left on the armchair by the hearth. In fact, the evening is another moment when Santa can enjoy some peace and quiet, relaxing in his worn leather armchair in front of a log fire that fills the room with its scent, smoking his pipe and finishing to read the articles. Once he has finished his dinner, he pats his belly with satisfaction and utters a rich, sated “ho, ho, ho” to praise the cook and then heads for his armchair, a smile on his face. He is still smiling when suddenly he happens to glance at the back page of the newspaper and sees a photograph of a man with a white beard and red jacket trimmed with white fur. It looks remarkably like him, but wait, it is him, one of his photos that are used by his press office for institutional communications. But there is something not quite right here. His trousers are shorter and tighter, like Armanyr had mentioned. What is more, his face has been photoshopped, being thinner and younger looking. Why? While his hand cups his new pipe, a generous, comfortable curvy Al Pascià pipe that has just arrived, he starts to piece together the day’s events, starting with the article he had read that morning about Befana’s operation that has probably set off a new trend in irresponsible restyling, masquerading as charity. He thinks that fiction may have substituted reality. What a disaster! Truth is sought for in magazines, newspapers and on social network sites. Existence is guided by plastic emotions, by virtual encounters and clicking “likes”. Santa has just realized this which saddens him. So he starts to think about how to switch on reality again. Substance is more important than appearance and while he ponders on this he feels his pipe almost vibrate in his hand, a new Al Pascià line which is quite substantial and all curves. Besides, he knows all about curves himself. Then, as if a warning bell has been set off, all the technological devices in his house start chirping, and this gives Santa an idea. We need to switch off machines and switch on humanity, touch more and retouch photos less, look at a friend’s profile in front of us and not on Facebook, ask grandparents about the past and not go and look things up on Google. We need to regain control of our lives, which are getting out of hand, or should we say out of mouse. Santa grins at this, his face increasingly red with happiness, and decides that this is what he will bring as a gift to everyone this year, even if no one has asked for it: a touch of human reality.
You may be wondering what the advertisement with Santa’s retouched photo says in the North Pole Times:
“Brand Finance, the British marketing agency, has revealed in its latest survey that Santa is worth 18 times more than Apple, the big company brand. The Santa Claus brand is worth 1.6 trillion dollars compared to Apple’s 87.3 billion dollars.”
Do we really need to ask why? There’s no technology in the world that can compete with the reality of emotions.
This Christmas switch off the Internet and switch on an emotion, and the wonder of reality will resume its rightful place. A sincere Merry Christmas from Al Pascià.