Wednesday, December 24, 2008


There are those who say that Santa Klaus does not exist. Niccolo, my seven year old grandson says:
" Those who don't believe in him will never see, hear or ever experience a serene Christmas."

Some of his classmates whose parents are Socialists or Communists perforce consider Santa Klaus a myth and an opiate. They, of all people forget that there is a great deal of truth in myths and legends.

In Italy there was a real Nicholas, Bishop of Bari who distributed gifts to the poor and needy children. His acolytes came in the silence and blackness of the night and deposited food, cakes and playthings by their fireplaces. It must be said that the Bishop who was canonized a Saint for his good and kindly life descended from a rich clan. With each Christmas, wealthy and well-off families contributed money and foodstuffs. They wished their children to participate in the joy of giving at Christmas.

"Why should the Christmas Angel bypass us?" they asked sadly.

Why indeed?

So the Bishop and the nobility decided that no child in their feudal lands would have a giftless Christmas Day.

Niccolo explained to his disbelieving friends and classmates that Saint Nicholas/Santa Klaus does not live and work in the North Pole or even in Lapland. He is somewhere in Time. Through a rift and/or a gate used only by him and his nine reindeer, for we must include Rudolph with his adorable red nose; he enters our space on the night before Christmas.

"Santa Klaus is a Nano Space Traveler. He and all his reindeer are astride a missile which allows them to penetrate all the time zones on our planet," said Niccolo.

Who can argue with that? Why would you want to? The innocence of a child(albeit a bright and multi-cultured if not acculturated one) must never be trifled with.

This Christmas of 2008 is going to be one of the most bleak, forlorn, bitter and sad in the history of the world.

Since the so-called end of World War ll, we have had continuous wars somewhere in the globe. Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, San Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Colombia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Israel, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique, to cite just a few.

The most unrelenting war is the one in the Congo because its wealth and resources continue to be incalculable. It is, without a doubt the richest nation on the planet.

And then there is the horror of Iraq, which is no longer the Iraq or Mesopotamia as we know it. Will it ever regain even a shadow of its former beauty and culture? I fear not for centuries.

Lest we forget Afghanistan. That splendid country of turquoise dawn and purple dusk is no more. Its people less than zombies.

During the Holy Mass at midnight at the Duomo of Genoa, with His Eminence, theCardinal Primate of Genoa presiding, I shall try not to cringe when the Cardinal, repeating the words of the Angel announces"Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus voluntatis."

Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace to men of goodwill.

Who are these men of Goodwill? Certainly not most of our Political, financial and religious Leaders. The Pope is a man of peace. The Dalai Lama is another. The Patriarch of Moscow is yet another. The Ayatollah Khamenei ? The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem? Certain pious Rebbe? Perhaps. Time will tell.

We can do nothing for all the starving, freezing poor people huddled in shelters, cars, tents, caves,abandoned buildings and railway cars. If one dwells on it too much as I have for these past weeks I have suffered nightmares almost every night.We have decided to help two families in the United States. They used to be lovely people with careers and pretty homes. No longer.

We don't believe in telling people " Let us hope that things will improve or even change."
That is a crock full of merde. We have just begun to see the iceberg. We must all brace for the worst, which is yet to come.

Hope is a useless emotion to one in anguish. Faith can and does sustain a tormented soul but only for a time. Charity and Compassion are the best of all virtues.Use it as best and as often as you can.

As I sit in my beautiful studio/workroom painted a bright ochre, surrounded by palms and avocado trees in porcelain pots, I feel a righteous fury towards all the Shylocks, the Ponzis and the criminal Bankers who shall forevermore remain anonymous for their role in this Great World Depression.

Yes. I admit that I find it difficult to forgive these vultures for what has been done to millions of hardworking people. Yet forgive them I must if I want to call myself a follower of Jesus and a Roman Catholic.

Thankfully my family in Italy and in Asia have not been affected. My husband and I saw this financial armageddon coming over two years ago. Let's just say that some of the individuals running these funds of funds made Al Capone and Jack the Ripper look teddy bears by comparison. We thought it more prudent to lose these criminals as acquaintances than to keep them. Brr!!!

Life goes on. All the world's troubles are but a tiny drop in God's never ending Universe. Prayer has power. Never doubt it. An elementary knowledge of finances would be sufficient to protect the many from the unbridled lust for money by the few.

In truth most people have only themselves to blame. Their greed as well as their wholehearted trust of their money managers and stock brokers proved to be their undoing. But wait. It need not be calamitous. A return to a more simple and basic life is a viable option. Save, Save, Save instead of Spend, Spend, Spend is a good Mantra to keep repeating and actually doing.

Come what may, despair and dismay must not possess us. We must live in the present and act charitably.

I wish you all a serene and peaceful Christmas regardless of how your life has been rent asunder. In your heart you must feel Love and Courage for yourself and for your loved ones. That is how you will emerge victorious.

In Julius Caesar's Gallia(Gaul)


  1. "Niccolo explained to his disbelieving friends and classmates that Saint Nicholas/Santa Klaus does not live and work in the North Pole or even in Lapland. He is somewhere in Time."

    Niccolo is correct.

    I met Santa Claus in person, when I was four years old, on Christmas Eve 1967. He entered our house through the back door, shaking his bells and shouting "HO HO HO", and yes he was a bit chubby, with a face around 75 years old, and wire-rimmed bifocals in front of his kindly old eyes with laugh-lines around them.

    When I met that international celebrity, I backed away from him slowly, agape and wide-eyed. Somewhere there's a photo of me at that moment, backing into our vintage 1890 piano (the tall kind; Isabel would know what it's called, the kind they use to use in pubs).

    After he gave me my first present - telling me that he'd come back later that night - he became less terrifying (avatar of Christ that he is), and he explained to me how he gets into our house without a fireplace: I pointed out to him that if he came down the chimney he would burn in our oil heater; he told me my parents just gave him the house keys.

    I had a map of the world on my bedroom wall, and I asked him how he can go all around the world in one night. And he said exactly what Niccolo said; he said "the clock is not my boss".

    When he exited, he told me I should not follow him outside, because "you don't want to frighten Rudolph." He exited through the back door, and I heard him jingling his bells and shouting to all his reindeer, including Rudolph, until the bells faded into the distance.

    Meanwhile, in THIS world's dimensions, the man who was Santa Claus for me that night, had jogged through the snow to his car, while shaking his sleigh-bells.

    Later in life, my Dad told me that that man was one of his friends at the VFW, a veteran of World War One. But that night, he really WAS Santa Claus, the real one.

  2. To John: I believe the piano you are referring to is called an upright.

    One of my earliest memories of Santa Claus was the fear that Adolf Hitler would disguise himself as Santa, come down our chimney on Christmas Eve and terrorize us all. Luckily, that never happened.

    Isabel, you and Stevan are wise as well as fortunate to have seen the financial crisis coming over two years ago. May you continue to prosper in 2009.




Isabel Van Fechtmann

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