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An Unknown Venezuelan Christmas Tale

By Luis Manuel Aguana

First, the unknown Venezuelan Christmas tale:

St. Nicholas with his pocket full of toys, his river beard and overflowing his heart of innocent tenderness enters the house of his companion Viriato. He discreetly knocks on the door:
- Who is it?
- I, Saint Nicholas, the Saint.
- Come in, old man, what do you want?
- I brought the baby some toys.
- Impossible to receive them, my child doesn't believe in you.
- Ah! In the Child Jesus, no doubt?
- No way! My son doesn't even believe in wheat bread, he's a lay child, he's a precocious atheist.
The excellent Saint is afflicted.
- I brought him a locomotive and a bowling alley. But if that child has too much malice and lack of faith, it seems to me useless to leave them to him.
- Saint Nicholas, you were in life a simple man, far from subtleties. You attach too much importance to faith. Believe it or not, illusion is everything. My poor little boy has not lost his innocence. He is at heart as innocent as all the older men who have lost their faith, but we are always waiting... You see, he left his shoes in the middle of the room when he went to bed. He's a very smart boy, he knows I'm out of work, without a penny. He knows that his unhappy mother died, he knows that we are left with no luck. Why does he put those open and torn shoes that seem to ask me for a gift for his master from his many mouths? What is that poor boy waiting for?
- For the soft miracle to happen,
The face of the gracious Saint shines with pity and indulgence:
- Well, well, son, I'll leave you those toys anyway. Don't tell him you actually saw me. He wouldn't believe you, he'd argue with you, he'd get doubtful, distrustful of you. All those flashy phrases would come out, that maybe you taught him yourself, all those ideas you call rationalists. As if the extraordinary were not reasonable! In short, leave it to your heart to interpret the meaning of this finding.
- Tomorrow you will simply believe in yourself because tomorrow you would wake up happy and the happy, of necessity, are naive.
- It is possible.
And St. Nicholas, a little lighter of his happy burden but saddened under the weight of painful uncertainty, enters the house of the opulent doctor So-and-So. He rings the bell, a domestic opens:
- What a fright! Who are you?
- Saint Nicholas; the children wrote to me...
The lady comes out.
- You too? Those children are very ambitious: they had already written to the Child Jesus, they plan to do the same with the Magi. Usually you are too generous with them.
- Madam, the faith of those children moves us...
- Hm! I don't really believe in that faith.
- However, you were saying...
- There's something to be unhappy about! The illusion of Christmas Eve has remained for us parents. They, the children, have broken their charm themselves. They don't believe in you.
- Nevertheless, they wrote me...
- Precisely in doing so, they say of their little faith and mistrust: to ask something of the saints you need no other testimony than your conscience.
- That's right, ma'am, it used to be that this was not done. He was more rested and sought more joy and surprise; I distributed the toys at my discretion: the children did not know beforehand what I was going to leave in his shoes. Instead, now... I am no longer the happy Dictator, here I have become a delivery boy. Here's the list of the children. Let's see, madam... where do I put the order?

Author: Tony Manrique, December 19, 1936 Radio Crónicas Navideñas, Fantoches Weekly, Page 5, Year XIV, No. 567.

With great affection I give you this December 24th this unknown story of the Venezuelan Christmas, published 83 years ago for the Christmas Eve of a country one year after leaving a dictatorship, with the purpose of making several reflections that I believe are important as we are used to in this time. This Christmas story is beautiful but very hard, as the teachings sometimes are. To which of these two visits do you think today's Venezuelan Christmas corresponds? That of the child who does not believe but has faith, or that of those children who, without caring about faith, know for sure that they will receive gifts from the "delivery boy"? In both cases they "do not believe" in Saint Nicholas but for different reasons, but the first one expects a miracle. And he will surely start believing in them when he sees the toys on Christmas Day. The other children will never believe but will always receive.

Venezuela stubbornly places its little shoes in the middle of the room today, waiting for something that its undeniable logic tells it will not come. But he puts them up. Why does he do it? What is he waiting for? The saint gives us an answer: "In the fulfillment of the gentle miracle. What gift will be most appreciated? The one that is not expected...

I keep comparing the other children with those who in Venezuela always received no matter what. And they are so sure that they will receive that they asked both, Saint Nicholas and the Child Jesus, and they are also preparing to ask the Three Kings. No doubt they will receive in and out of this tragedy. For them St. Nicholas will be a mere "delivery boy", because no matter who delivers they will get theirs. This year the delivery boys who rose up after 23E took good care of that.

But the vast majority is that big-hearted Venezuela. The one who knows that her father is out of work and her mother died. And those who are supposed to be distributing "the gifts" of a better future for the Venezuelan family should surprise us starting this Christmas 2019. We Venezuelans have stopped believing in them because of four years of disenchantment, especially this last devastating one of unfulfilled promises.
But who knows? It could be that in the year 2020 the "soft miracle" will be fulfilled, like the one when a victim of Vargas, who became a "delivery boy" of gifts for those who always received, remembers his own condition, immediately giving a surprise to that Venezuela that lost its faith, and letting the extraordinary become reasonable, and bringing happiness to those who are naive because they have it. Only in this way, many of us would begin to believe...

With the deep desire that this "soft miracle" of this unknown Venezuelan Christmas story be fulfilled for Venezuela, receive all my followers in TICs & Human Rights, the most beautiful Christmas possible this hard 2019, in the conviction and faith that the Son of God who is born today will not abandon us...

Caracas, December 24, 2019


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