For Christmas this year we’ve decided to banish life’s daily greyness and wrap ourselves in colour. Besides, Christmas time is a good excuse to become young once again and believe that anything is possible, whether it’s wishing on a falling star, believing that the kid who lent you the ball will be a friend for ever, covering your eyes so that nobody can see you and knowing that Santa Claus exists. What better way to celebrate the seasonal festivities than dive back into those enchanting beliefs, just for a while.
Basically, life is a fairy tale, and you only have to know how to see it.
The log in the fireplace needs rekindling. Night is falling and the light that filters through the windows is too dim to light up the room. Strange shadows appear on the floor, stretching out the shape of the lacy curtains on the wood. There is the silence of biscuits just out of the oven, that feeling of fragrant wonder which precedes a nice cup of tea and the peace of an armchair to stroke a tired back.
The last few days have been frenetic – everything must be ready in good time. Thank goodness when darkness falls everything stops and you have some time to think about the past. Over the years this pastime has increasingly been a source of energy for Santa Claus. The elves have finished assembling toys for today and they say goodbye in chorus, leaving him finally alone. Pleased with the daily mounting pile of presents, he stokes up the fire and sits down.
Christmas Eve is approaching. His nine reindeers are on a special diet for the long journey ahead and so is he, as the years pass and he must keep fit. His outfit from last year still fits – he tried it on just yesterday, and he only had to add an extra hole in his belt to contain his bulging paunch. Rudolph’s red nose shivers at the sight of his dazzling red outfit.
While the flames from the fire are reflected in his glasses and the fragrance of pine fills the air, Santa decides to light up his pipe. He wants to enjoy the last few evenings before the great day and dwell on the symbolic meaning of the date chosen as Christmas Day. Knowing that he celebrates this event at a time when the sun begins to lengthen the days again and heralds spring makes him feel even prouder of his work.
So many letters are still coming in, and he has a boxful of them to read before tomorrow. How times and wishes have changed, he thinks while puffing on his pipe and stoking his fluffy white beard. Sometimes in the list of gifts there is no description of the toy, but merely a link to the website where it can be bought. The wonders of the new millennium! Yet, he has read all sorts of Christmas letters, and from experience he can proudly say that although generations change, one thing that all children do not change is their firm belief in their dreams. This is precisely what he counts on when he takes his sleigh and sets off to deliver his gifts. Even if sometimes there is a limit to what he can do, as when in 1886 the French asked him to deliver to the Americans the largest present that had ever existed, namely the Statue of Liberty, and he had to decline. He already has so much to do as it is.
Suddenly a loud “Ho Ho Ho” rattles the window pane. He has suddenly remembered some strange things that some adults have done in relation to him, those adults who have forgotten how to dream The best one which has made him laugh is the one where the speed of his sleigh has been calculated in order to be able to deliver the presents worldwide in a single night, by a certain Larry Silverberg, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University, who had been a child himself once, only he had forgotten this. Anyway, one day the great Larry came up with the figure: 8,180,295.55 kph, the speed needed in order for Santa to visit 200 million children spread over 517,997,622 square kilometers. Ho, Ho Ho! What a laugh! Another funny episode, which goes back a few years, occurred in 1955 when a store in Colorado Springs advertised a number to all the children who wanted to speak to Santa, but unfortunately gave out the wrong number, namely the secret hotline of CONAD, Continental Air Defense. However, unlike Professor Silverberg, Colonel Shoup, the person manning the line, got on well with children, and after his initial bewilderment, played along and answered all the children’ questions, also getting his radar operators to track Santa’s sleigh’s exact location. This was the start of a well-loved annual Christmas tradition, even when CONAD became NORAD. Indeed, since then NORAD has used its technology to track Santa’s movements and children’s dreams. Another hilarious episode was when some other scientists decided to find a plausible scientific explanation for Rudolph’s red nose (why does science always try to trample on dreams?). According to their theory, the red nose was a product of an extremely cold climate, and the glow was similar to the phenomena found in lizards or certain types of fish. Actually, thinks Santa, it is well-known that Rudolph’s red nose glows to help the other reindeer find their way in case of fog and it is thanks to him if I can slide down chimneys, put gifts under trees, shoes and stockings that hang above the fireplace and make dreams come true.
As his memories pile up, Santa realizes it is time to go to bed. However, before going he glances out of the window, and sees a white, snow-covered landscape. Living at the North Pole has its advantages, as it is always snowing. He strokes his white beard, takes a last puff on his pipe and then goes to bed. What a wonderful thing to go to bed and knowing you will wake up in a dream.
Merry Christmas from Al Pascià to all children today and to the child within you.
Milano, Christmas 2013