BELOVED DECEMBER / Fernando Dámaso

Photo: Rebeca

In December Evaristo Calero always felt better than in the remaining months of the year. From childhood it was so. As soon as December came in, with its northerlies, the Christmas spirit took hold of him and didn’t leave until early January. Starting from a year when, by decree, Christmas and its accompanying festivities were eliminated, Evaristo tried to ignore them, but as soon as December, appeared something inside of him transformed: it seems that the force of custom was stronger than of the decrees.

This year was no different. With the first day of the month, Evaristo looked more cheerful and, as some said, more youthful. He got up very early and missed a walk, trying to lengthen the time as much as possible and take in all the seconds of every minute. Women were more beautiful, the colors of the flowers stronger, their fragrances more pleasant. In the city, dirty, dilapidated and noisy throughout the year, certain tenderness emanated from the people and gave the impression that love had been reborn.

Although carols were not played on television and radio, nor were the streets decorated, nor were Christmas messages sent, and everything had been replaced by ridiculous posters and slogans that included only the perpetrators, within Evaristo bells sounded and Easter flowers grew. So he walked the streets and approached the windows of the former department stores, which looked as if they were embarrassed, wanting to show something festive, some authorized traditional ornaments  and ignoring others, in an absurd alchemy that meant nothing.

Evaristo had never understood: either yes or no. He didn’t like half-measures. At night he liked to sit near the sea, the castle of La Punta, and from there to observe the extensive necklace of lights — some off — extending along the Malecón, listening to the rhythmic crashing of the waves against the reefs.

Absorbed in it, he paid no attention to the sleigh, pulled by four reindeer, breaking the water as it was coming and ringing bells. When he came to notice it, he found it within him and it glided swiftly by in a starry sky, having at his feet the dimly lit city. He left wrapped in a cloud and disappeared. They say those who knew and loved him, that he returns each December smiling over the sad and dark city.

December 25 2011