Santa Surprise

“When I was a child Santa used to come to Greece on New Year’s Eve. Nowadays this has changed of course, along with many other things, and he follows his Western counterpart. Actually Santa in Greece is called St Vassily and I have never met him personally. My parents used to tell me that he came through the window (there was no fireplace in our house), and that he always ate the sweets we put for him near the Christmas tree. This I could attest thanks to the fact that his plate would later be empty with only a few crumbs left.
“Yes, New Year’s Eve was a day of extreme joy and expectation. My siblings and I had to take an afternoon nap so that we could stay up late, till midnight, when the New Year would come and we would welcome it with songs and games. In reality, our siesta provided our parents with some time during which they could stage Santa’s coming and going.
“The reward for this forced boring unnecessary sleep was the discovery of the presents inside our socks, our shoes, our wellies as soon as we would wake up. But there was a year when things did not go exactly as planned. Or rather they did for everybody else but me.
“In our house there was a small room with a big bookcase and a cheap wooden table on which we had lunch when we came back from school and there we also did our homework. At times of boredom, my sister, my brother and I would scribble on its surface our names, silly verses, or sentences that we thought should remain there for all eternity.
“It was in this room that my sister, who was 4 years older than me, summoned me one New Year’s Eve. I was 7 years old then.
“‘Τhere is something I have to tell you’, she said, a little before going to bed for the best siesta of the year.
“‘What is it?’ I said, unable to foresee the storm coming.
“My sister loved me and felt she couldn’t bring herself to utter what our parents had entrusted her to tell me. She didn’t want to hurt me but still she had to do her duty.
“She wrote something on the wooden table. Then she guiltily nodded to me to read it.
“‘Santa exists only for children under the age of 7, I read and couldn’t believe my eyes.
“‘No, it isn’t true, it isn’t true’, Ι cried in a state of complete denial. Ι searched for my parents who had to confirm my sister’s written statement.
“Oh what a horrible New Year’s Eve for me!”

Originally published in