Mary Irvine’s Blog: Xmas Overdone.
Several years ago, being appalled at the amount of money I was spending on postage for Xmas cards I resolved that was it. No more. I duly informed people of my decision. Some still send cards, others donate £1 to their local charity and others stopped talking to me. Ok, there were only two but we only contacted each other at Xmas anyway so that was no great loss!
However, as you are obviously reading this – are you still out there sis? – I’m sending you some Greek warmth in two ways. It wasn’t always sun, out there, you know. We did have some horrendous winters on Spetses. What do you mean, you don’t believe me? I have photographic proof, not in jpeg, however!
Also, here is a piece I’ve lifted from my Greek memoirs.
Christmas – not the turkey –overdone!
As I trudged up the final slope to Katerina’s house I could see her on the balcony wielding the binoculars she claimed she used to watch the fishing boats out at sea. Others, however, did wonder if they helped provide her with her plethora of knowledge of the comings and goings of her neighbours.
She obviously saw my approach, without realizing she had likewise been spotted, and surreptitiously - she believed – slipped the binoculars out of sight before calling ‘welcome’, then disappearing only to re-appear moments later at the entrance to her garden of which she was rightly proud.
Greeting me in her usual enthusiastic, effusive even, way she led me up the steps and into the cool of her kitchen which abounded in many cloths - all matching and, since this was the festive season, they all displayed the same motifs of seasonal relevance: jolly little fat men dressed in red or angelic cherubic children. Red and green flourished on every possible flat surface. The curtains had also been changed to ‘match’. This theme was carried over into the living area with a plastic variation of 3D greenery and angelic, cherubic children adorning the wall directly opposite and a large, kelly-like, blow-up jolly fat man dressed in red. A truly un-realistic tree emanating from one corner took over, rather than dominated, the room. I was conscious, how could one not be, of the flashing lights which positively rivalled Joseph’s coat, but wasn’t sure, at first, that I was hearing correctly. Yes, there it was again – co-ordinated with the flashes were the computerised strains of international festive music.
Fortunately Katerina had begun her latest piece of gossip so her volume, rather than any rapt interest level drowned out the less than melodious tones.
As I stirred milk into the hot coffee placed in front of me I switched on to Katerina’s diatribe on the latest foreign wife to ‘do a runner’ with her children and just before the festive season too, a time for families to be together, and wasn’t it terrible? I made what I hoped were the right noises in the right places! But I had long since desisted from proffering any justification or rationale for so many foreign wives leaving, often with no advance warnings or announcements.
It was, with minor variations, the same story. Young woman comes to the island and is seduced firstly by its beauty. She stays. She meets the man of her dreams. Or at least the blue sea, the pine trees and the radiant sun makes it so appear. Several years and two or three children later the dream dissolves as reality reveals itself.
Katerina’s tirade ceased as abruptly as it had started. The sound of an old motor-bike heralded the arrival home of her husband. She has to attend to his lunch. But I must join them for the celebration when I would finally meet the much praised grand-child! I couldn’t wait!
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