Hogol's Christmas tale

L egend has it that a long time ago, a young hogol came to the world of the humans, searching for a new place to live. There he found rivers and lakes, mountains and plains, wetlands and deserts, snow, water, clouds and the sea. “How beautiful the sea is!” thought the hogol. And he also found many, many people. The human world was full of people, most of them living in towns and cities. “Surely they are good people if they can all live together.” And with that, the hogol decided to stay and live among the humans.
But he soon came to realize that things were not as rosy as he had imagined. The people that lived there were physically the same as himself, and from the outside, you could not tell them apart. But inside, the essence of their being held something totally foreign to the hogol.
He realized that humans did not say what they thought. Sometimes they even said the opposite of what they thought. He discovered that many people fought against other people for reasons that he didn’t understand; ignorance and lack of awareness caused fear and hate. The hogol did not understand anything. Here no one did anything just for the pleasure of doing it. Everything had a price. Someone told him that even friendship had a price. How can you buy feelings and what currency can pay for them?
Little by little, the spark that lit up his heart began to dim. This was so different from what he had imagined and he felt trapped in a cruel and heartless world. People looked at him out of the corners of their eyes and he sometimes caught them pointing at him behind his back. “The self comes first here; others mean so little,” thought the hogol, his eyes welling up with tears.
But even so, there was one thing of this world that he did love: the ocean. It was enormous, so mysterious; so tranquil when it was calm, and so powerful when it was angry… Whenever he felt sad, he would go to the beach and there, all alone, gazing at the horizon, he would let loose his sadness in tears.
But one day, while the hogol sat on the sand, out of nowhere he felt a soft, faraway breeze caress his cheeks. And in the murmurs of the wind he heard the voice of Brother Tree, the wise tree that lives in Hogoland and is friend to all hogols.
“Brother Tree! How glad I am to hear your voice!”
“I have seen you on this beach often, young hogol. And each time, I see you crying. What pain drowns your heart so?”
“I’m afraid, Brother…”
“Afraid of what?”
“The people…the people here are different. They don’t say what they think and don’t do what they feel. I am afraid of becoming like them, Brother.”
“Oh, they’re not so different from the hogols. But you’re right; you could turn in to one of them. Be careful.”
“Perhaps you could help me, Brother?”
“Help you how, young hogol?”
“Maybe you could keep me from becoming like them and make me happy forever so I never cry again. Or even better, why don’t you change all of them? This world would be so much better, Brother Tree!”
“Yes, that would truly make this a marvelous place to live! But although I have magical powers, they are not powerful enough to do what you ask.”
The expression of hope that had graced the hogol’s face for a moment fell into sadness once again and he lowered his head once again.
“Don’t cry, young friend. You cannot solve your problem with tears.”
“What should I do, Brother? Not even you, with your powers, can do anything! What can one little hogol do?”
“You can do many things!” The hogol felt Brother Tree’s warm smile through the words. “You said it yourself before, think about it.”
“What did I say before?”
“That you were afraid of becoming like them. If you can become like them, don’t you think that they can become like you?”
“But how?”
“Humans are like you in one very important way: they are not inherently bad. They become that way. For whatever reason, they turn into what they are, but it’s not their nature. Now think a little: if you’re surprised by their way of being, of living, of feeling, don’t you think that they will also be surprised when they see you? Perhaps you can teach them to see things differently, to help someone smile when they are sad, to give a hug when someone is afraid, to offer love when they find a broken heart.”
“Do you think that would make any difference? There are so many people here and I know so few of them,” cried the hogol.
“Don’t worry about how many. The important thing is that you spread your happiness to the people that you do know. Happiness is never complete if one person around you is not happy too. If you do what I ask of you, Hogol, I’ll give you what you asked me for before.”
“To make the whole world happy?” asked the hogol.
“To make the whole world happy, yes, but only one day a year. My powers are not that strong, but I can make everyone happy once a year, as long as you uphold your end of the bargain.”
“What you ask of me seems very hard, Brother. Humans have a wonderful world but they cannot see it. But I’ll do what I can.”
“You speak with wisdom beyond your years, young hogol. Remember: as long as you do what you have promised, I will keep my promise. Agreed?”
“Yes! Agreed!”
The hogol found himself standing on the beach with his arms outstretched, just as he used to when he was young, back in Hogoland, next to Brother Tree in the blowing wind.
He cried no more. He felt wonderful! Brother Tree had come from far away to speak with him. This was unusual. Perhaps he was especially loved by Brother Tree? For the first time in a long time, the hogol smiled while he watched the Sun sink over the horizon, the Moon chasing it up into the sky. “What had the Sun done to the Moon to provoke this constant chase?” the Hogol asked himself. And with this enigma in his mind he returned home for the night.
The next morning, the hogol was amazed upon leaving his house. It had snowed! Everything was white and beautiful! But something strange was going on. Everyone walking down the street wore a smile on their face, and greeted each other when passing by. And looking into their eyes as they did, the hogol saw that this time they did say what they mean and they did do what they felt. The streets were full of lights and colors and the children ran this way and that to look at all of them, like moths fluttering toward a streetlamp.
“What is going on?” the hogol asked a man walking down the street.
“Why, today is Christmas!”
“Of course! Today is a day of happiness for all. We meet up in each other’s houses and spend the day with people that we love, wishing happiness to all.”
The hogol smiled as he realized that Brother Tree had kept his word and that at least this once, this human world seemed more like Hogoland.
Ever since then, the hogol has been travelling the world, always trying to share his happiness with those he has met, helping put a smile on the face of those who are sad, hugging those who are afraid, and offering love to those with broken hearts, just as the Great Tree had instructed him. Each year, Brother Tree continues to send one day of happiness to all. And so it shall be as long as the hogol upholds his end of the bargain.

Written by : Joan Moret
Translated by : Mary McKee
Illustrator : Bernat Muntés

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