Returning for the Feast

December 16, 2014 7:48 PM

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The night was deliciously still, an occurrence rare in the Cyclades where summers are riotously gusty and winters prone to punishing gales. I was going to the island of Syros on the eve of the celebration of St. Nicholas on December 6th. I chose to arrive in a ship which was laboriously bound for Kavala in Northern Greece 26 hours after its arrival in Syros, stopping at several islands where it would disgorge a load of woe begotten teenage soldiers commencing their military service and a chorus of stout, black clad old ladies crocheting or knitting at ferocious speeds. The lack of internet on the vessel prevented my vigilant laptop from assailing me with mails, my weighty magazines remained unread and I fell asleep, my consciousness slipping away as into a warm bath.

As I disembarked I was confused. How could it be so balmy when the port was saluting me with a chaotic illumination of Christmas lights? The inclination to overdecorate for the Christmas holidays on the Greek islands is incongruous. As if Santa would forsake the snowy hillocks and ice crested firs o...

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