Flying Sheets of Paper | Christmas: Forever Children, Forever Children

When do we stop being children? At what point in our lives, that of each one of us, from day to day and in our small outer space, do we stop perceiving our world as a universe, which is that place that runs from our house and our street to school, from our patio with our friends and immovable family –always there– and even the territory of our best memories?

At what point did the rust from the passage of time cover our innocence, candor, sweetness, tenderness, illusion, surprise, curiosity? What is the moment in which we think differently and see things with that insatiable ambition to be and be in another space and in another area? Is it the moment when we no longer want to be children to be “big” like our parents or our teachers? At what point do we lose innocence?

Rabindranath Tagore, the great Hindu poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1913, in “The King’s Postman” shows us how the purity of a child’s soul, imagination and dreams of freedom achieve anything.

He says in his work that the desire to be free despite adverse circumstances is not an obstacle to stop dreaming, to stop fighting, much less to stop being children.

It is the dream of Amal, the little sick man who only wants and dreams is to see the world…: “If you cry for having lost the sun, tears will not let you see the stars.”…

Have you, before a naive-childish joke, ever dealt the “you look like a child!”? And what seems like a claim, a reproach, a minimal scolding, becomes a compliment, an aspiration, an illusion: to make up for lost time, as Marcel Proust said. Never stop being children.

Being so from time to time to return to those moments in which most of us were extremely happy… and we didn’t know it… And that lost thing suddenly appears, as if it had been hidden and crouching there in us, for always, that child that we want hidden so that others do not tell us: “you look like a child!”, even if we are and even if we like to be one because we are, after all.

And what about the recurring memories with the family or with old friends or acquaintances with that of “Do you remember when we were children and we did this and this and this…? Childhood never leaves us… or at least the memory, the nostalgia, the homesickness, saudade…: happiness.

It took hours, days, years, decades to know that we were very happy in childhood. Perhaps we have also been so at other times in life, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but at each stage that happiness acquires a different meaning…

Sometimes it is hard to get it because responsibilities, school, work, professional or personal obligations put us in obstacles that we will have to deal with and for which we often lose our smile and candor and transparent gaze. And we don’t realize if we are happy or not. We simply and simply are.

And why all this childhood nostalgia? Well, very simple. Because precisely these Christmas days the memories of ‘those years’ accumulate in us, although we do not say so. You are happy at the very moment; in the party of this day; in the hugs and kisses with our dear people.

…With friends. With co-workers –some of whom become our great friends, or those who simply and simply like us and like us–. The party here or there. The one every year in the office, with the bosses. The one every year with the friends we only see on this occasion or the meeting this December with the great friends we saw just a few days ago and whom we always need… But…

Underlying all this is that memory of when everything was colored, flavored, with aromas of tangerines, hawthorns, peanuts, snacks, guavas and oranges and sugar cane… and indescribable family warmth… And hence, great writers did not escape from their own entrails and have dedicated some of their best pages to Christmas, together with nostalgia for childhood…

Perhaps the first of them, due to his intensity and emotion, as well as his deep social sense and ideal of justice, was the Englishman Charles Dickens. The one who, like who doesn’t want the thing, made one of the most emblematic literary works in the history of universal literature but above all he put Merry Christmas on the dissection table but also the crude reflection of the working conditions that prevailed in Victorian England.

It is known that on some occasion Karl Marx explained to Friedrich Engels that Charles Dickens “had proclaimed more truths of social and political depth than all the speeches of political professionals, agitators and moralists put together”.

In 1843 he published his story “Christmas song”. A story to which he adds a deep feeling of solidarity and love, which is the spirit that, according to the work, underlies Christmas as a time of reunion with oneself, but also as a moment of redemption.

It is the story of the greedy, angry and unfair Ebenezer Scrooge. Who even during Christmas Eve and Christmas does not stop counting-counting-counting his riches and his vice for work, to which he drags his notary Bob Cratchit. But suddenly, for three nights, Scrooge views his life almost as if he were a stranger to it, something he achieves thanks to a visit from three ghosts.

The Spirit of Christmas Past shows him a childhood in which there are moments of Dickens’s own and in which Scrooge was not yet a lonely, reclusive miser who hated everyone: He was a happy child. Unforgettably happy.

The Ghost of Christmas Present teaches him that the contempt for humanity he feels is not always returned in kind. And finally, the ghost that allows him to glimpse his future reveals an immense loneliness and abandonment to him, which terrifies him and ends up softening his heart.

Also about Christmas, childhood and the deep sense of friendship wrote Truman Capote, the American author of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Cold-blooded”, “music for chameleons”.

a christmas memory” is a story-memory of his own childhood. In Alabama, in the south of the USA, where Buddy, the character, is left alone without his mother and with a father who sees him from time to time.

But most of all love and friendship with his older, grey-haired, slightly crippled cousin named Sook. Miss Sook Faulk. Buddy “had other friends, but she was by far my best friend. It was Sook who told me about Santa Claus, his bushy beard, her red suit and her noisy sleigh loaded with gifts, and I believed her…

“The same way he believed that everything was the will of God, or the Lord, as Sook always called him.” Above all, she spoke to him, for the first time, about snow. And Buddy wanted to know snow: “Snow! Until I taught myself to read, Sook read me a lot of stories, and there seemed to be a lot of snow in most of them. Dazzling dreamy flakes sliding through the air.”

And we cannot ignore our Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, who in his “Christmas in the mountains” makes us recover hope in the human being, in simplicity as a model of humanity and in solidarity. Christmas as consolation and memory of that lost childhood that is recovered at any moment, in an unexpected way, even in the arid mountain, where affection predominates and is the incentive for difficult times.

Many more writers of great depth have dedicated part of their work to recovering their lost childhood and recovered in those pages full of emotion, hope and “tea soaked cupcakes”: JRR Tolkien; Hans Christian Andersen; The Brothers Grimm; Paul Auster, Agatha Christie… So many.

“… That’s why everyone is Santa Claus. I am it. You are. Even your cousin Billy Bob. Now go to sleep. Count stars. Think of the most peaceful thing. Snow. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see it. But now the snow falls between the stars. … “He calls me Buddy, in memory of a boy who was once his best friend. The other Buddy died in the 1880s, when she was still a child. She now she is still a girl.”

[Nos vemos en enero 2023: ¡Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo!]

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Flying Sheets of Paper | Christmas: Forever Children, Forever Children