Señor Rafael Cavero of Madrid is a collector, indeed the foremost collector of Papá Noel (Santa Claus) in all of Spain.
In the door which gives access to the garden of the house in which he has lived more than thirty years, a heap of little men with white beards receives visitors. They hide themselves, climb the balconies, go up the lanterns, laugh. And once you have crossed the threshold of the residence, the spectacle surpasses all expectations. “Lola, my wife, is a fan of the Three Kings, and what she hates most of all in the world, although you won’t believe it, is Santa Claus. At this time of year she is always annoyed and wants to leave the house. For this reason, and in revenge, she installs a nativity scene of gigantic size,” he explained.
A collector of many things, among which are music boxes and masks, his fondness for Santa Claus began by accident. He discovered the oldest piece of his collection at a fair and it pleased him so much that since then he looks for pieces here and there, everywhere in the world, on the internet, in catalogues, in shops…”The last ones which I acquired came from Denmark. And especially the best are those from there and from Norway. They are the most expensive; they cost almost as much as a car! Nevertheless, today many are made in China and the quality is evident. Of those which I possess, many have almost five movements. Others read stories and there are even those who sing thirty Christmas carols with the voice of Ray Charles.”
The display in the Cavero house involves emptying the living room over three days of intense work (“I do it with two of my daughters, Ana and Piedy, with a guitarist and a carpenter”). Lola’s collection of boxes and porcelain dogs “disappears” in their place there is put up an incredible scene of crystal balls, gnomes, rabbits, and reindeer. And thousands of Santa Clauses in all postures and attitudes: playing the saxophone, getting on a motorcycle, with eyeglasses like Stevie Wonder, soaping up in a bathtub, swinging, crossing the room at high speed, juggling on the swing, on the stairs…and all this in the middle of a great racket of songs, laughs, and train whistles.
And what does Señor Cavero want from Santa Claus? “That when in Spain almost everything is lost, that the hope in Santa Claus is not lost and to assure the whole world that the Three Kings exist. Ours (i.e., Spanish royalty] are in La Zarazuela [the royal palace], but they have some pages [Spanish politicians?] who leave much to be desired.”