There are things in the world that should be changed and others that are best left as they are. For instance, nobody would change rainbows, nor milk and biscuits, cuddles, Sunday morning in bed while it’s raining outside, and laughter. Of course, Christmas is certainly on our list of things that should never go, Christmas meaning spirit, warmth and emotion, and not just a matter of form. And this is precisely what we try to offer you each year with our Christmas tale. Take a pen and paper and write down your own list of things you’d like to change and those that you wish to keep as they are, and one of your New Year resolutions could be to try and shorten the list of things to change, thanks to you, or at least seeing these things from another point of view.
It must have been a fly. How odd, a fly in December and what’s more at the North Pole, but it was almost certainly a fly that distracted Santa. It may have flown out of the chilly reindeer stables (30 degrees below zero!) looking for a warmer place and found an open window. Anyway, this pest landed on Santa’s nose and made him lose his balance. You can imagine the scene: zzzzzzz, zzzzzz, zzzzzzzzzzz. Touchdown. Santa must have gone cross-eyed trying to make out what it was that perched on his nose and then tried to swat it. Unfortunately, at that moment Santa was balancing on a chair trying to reach a box of buttons on top of the wardrobe, and not firmly anchored to the floor when he took a swipe. Goodness knows why that box was on top of the wardrobe , but it was the same story every year. As Christmas was approaching, the jackets of the elves and gnomes mysteriously lacked buttons for the buttonholes. Buttons and yet more buttons tumbling down like soldiers on a battlefield. Not to mention the buttons on his own red jacket, the one for Christmas Eve. Sometimes they popped off when he squeezed into it, and at other times because of unexpected situations, such as when they got caught on the big bag of gifts, or else when he slid down the chimneys, or those that disappeared while high in the sky on the sleigh at night, snagging them on the edge of a star. In other words, on top of reading every single letter and getting his staff to reply to all the children before Christmas Eve, he also had to do more homely things like putting buttons back on jackets. Actually, he liked doing this. He would sit in his armchair, which now held the impression of his body and waited for him every evening in front of the fire, he would switch on the reading lamp on the small table nearby and start to mend tears and sew on buttons. There was always a big cup of hot milk which steamed up his glasses every time he took a sip.
Anyway, let’s go back to the matter of the fly who is to blame for what happened next. Such a robust man (and elderly too, we have to add) who stands on a chair, reaches out to take down a box of buttons from the top of a wardrobe and suddenly swipes at the fly on the tip of his nose is bound to start teetering, if not fall off the chair – and this is what indeed happened. Santa slipped and failed to break his fall, hitting the floor hard and banging his head. The thud was so heavy that the snow on the roof jolted and fell off into piles along the side of the house. There he was, lying on the floor with a big, red bump on his forehead and the fly on top. It really hurt. When Santa opened his eyes the elves and gnomes were all around him. Some were fanning him, others were asking him if he was ok, and another elf was handing him a glass of water. Everyone there for him, only for him, worried, affectionate and familiar. But who were they? Santa wasn’t at all sure who they were, and smiled without understanding. The blow to the head had made him lose his memory, and there was nothing left. Who were these people? And who was he? When the elves realised what had happened, there was widespread panic at the North Pole. “Christmas is just a week away, what shall we do?” they despaired. The elf doctor, Hippocratix, was summoned, to have a better idea of what had happened and perhaps Santa would recover soon. But his reply was: “Total rest until he starts to remember something”. What, rest?? “That’s impossible! Who’s going to tell the children all over the world that this year there’ll be no gifts because Santa doesn’t know who he is anymore?” Yes, and how on earth are we going to tell him? So Santa’s closest assistants had to resort to a backup plan. There was no point in waiting for a miracle, but every house all over the world had to be told that the gifts wouldn’t arrive in time for the 25th December, hoping and praying that things would get back to normal as soon as possible. The following day millions of owls from the postal service flew out to drop messages into the children’s letterboxes everywhere. A rolled up sheet of paper tied with red and green string stated: “Santa has lost his memory. It is with great regret that there will be no gifts for Christmas day. We all hope that he will get well soon.” All in all, everyone reacted rather well, apart from the first few minutes of general bewilderment. They started to get organised, so that the children would get some gifts in any case. They just had to roll up their sleeves as time was really short. Mothers’ groups sprang up to create rag dolls and Teddy bears, Fathers carved trains, cars and rocking horses and children offered old toys that were still in good condition. In every city, town and village the pleasure of getting together to think of others was rediscovered, thanks to this mishap. The joy of giving was found again. Meanwhile, at the North Pole all the elves, gnomes, fairies and even the reindeer looked after Santa, who had to relearn the world. He went for a walk in the morning to rediscover snow, trees, birds and the sky. Then back home with all his friends who took turns to sit by him and tell stories of their lives together, in the hope that this would jog his memory. But nothing happened. Along came Christmas Eve and the big family, resigned to the unusual situation, decided to organise a dinner to celebrate. For the very first time they were spending Christmas around the table or in front of the fire and not working, nor riding on a sleigh. There was something new and exciting in preparing dinner, decorating the house and wrapping gifts that weren’t leaving the house. There was a festive air about them that helped them to forget the unfortunate incident. This is what Christmas was all about, which they hadn’t known, and getting together as a family was a cure-all for lifting the spirits.
Then it was nearly midnight. The children were already asleep, serene knowing that the next day they wouldn’t be disappointed thanks to the good will of mums and dads and various friends. At the North Pole it was time to open the present that everyone had wrapped for that amnesiac Santa, in the hope that something familiar could trigger his memory back. They gathered around him, holding their breath, while his big hands tried to untie the bow of his present. A box with his initials, SC, emerged that contained the precious handmade object. He took off the lid, and on red velvet lay a pipe. As soon as Santa caught sight of the familiar object, his eyes lit up. A series of images flashed by, as if he were rewinding a tape: laughter in front of the fire, cosy chats, relaxing at the end of the day, pleasant aromas round the house, faces filled with love and friendly pats on the back, loud ho-ho-hos filling the rooms with hugs and positive thoughts. Yes! Santa was back! He peered over his glasses at all his dear friends gathered around him, glad to feel at home once again, and touching the lump on his forehead said: “Thank you all for the gift, but I think that the best gift is giving. Now let’s go, it’s going to be a long night and they’re waiting for us!”
Merry Christmas, everyone!