A Christmas story
And the 25 drachmas !
As the Christmas Holidays are approaching, I am brought back to the memory of Christmas in 1979.
Nothing different would have happened that year, if it was not for the beautiful 40cm die cut Santa Claus, which Dinos, the owner of my neighborhood's small mini market ( psilikatzidiko) had just placed for sale some weeks before the 25 th.
I still remember the day when returning home, exhausted from school, my eyes froze upon the beautiful Santa , who mystically " was waving "at me from the mini market's vitrine , in an irresistible , constant call!
I had to get into the store and ask for this beautiful, vivid colored paper -Santa
"Good evening Mr Dino "
"Good evening to you too"
"I see you brought in new stuff for Christmas,"... I replied ( trying to pretend I didn't see that Santa in his vitrine )
"Yes a new supplier just left . Did you see the Santa I placed in the vitrine ?"
"No , where?" As I had totally missed and didn't care )
"Here , at your left "
"Ohhh yes" .. I replied ... "Is it for sale ?"
"What question is this ? Of course it is for sale , but kinda of expensive . Made in Germany it is an old style Santa Claus."
"Ahh ... And how much does it cost?"
"25 drachmas "
-In comparison to today's money, 25 drachmas was nothing more than 5-10 cents , but back in the days I could eat a " koulouri"( a small kind of donut snack ) for 5 drachmas -
"25 drachmas ?" I replied loudly ...reacting as If I had heard the most outrageous price !
"It's a collectible," Mr Dinos replied ..." A collectible from Germany !"
Sad and completely devastated , I said my goodnights to the mini market's owner and slowly walked across the street.
"Goodbye Mr Santa , ..from Germany ,"I whispered to myself , looking at him for the last time.
That was the moment I devised in a plan to buy that Santa Claus, and I would not be in peace until my plan came true
But how ?
And how fast could I collect the money before another kid from the neighborhood would purchase it?
No , no that was not an option
I had to move fast ... But again what I could do to find the necessary 25 drachmas ?
The next morning on my way to school I passed again in front of Mr Dinos' shop.
"Good morning," ..Mr Dinos said
"Good morning," I replied as I was staring the Santa Claus
"How much does it cost?" I asked him again, hoping that the price would have gone down in one night
"25 drachmas .... I told you yesterday"
"Ehhh yes , is collectible from.."
"From Germany, yes I know!" was my answer that prevented Mr Dinos from completing his sentence.
For the next week I would pass from the small mini market store every morning before going to school, and every night before returning home, to inspect the Santa Claus and be sure the price had not wavered.
One day, It came a point that Mr Dinos had enough of my daily price questions, and he took a pencil and marked the back of Santa Claus paper with the price!
"Here ...so you don't ask me again he said ... 25 drachmas I told you ... It it collectible!" he said to me rolling his eyes as he had enough of my insistence.
I invented a lot of excuses during that week to pass by his store and hold the Santa in my hands, in an attempt, little by little to place him back in the vitrine in a hidden spot so no one else could see him and purchase him
But Mr Dinos would always find him and place him back straight on the vitrine , while smiling at me.
I was spending the first week of vacation off from school due to the upcoming Christmas holiday, when I finally had a lot of fee time to exercise my plan.
It was during my holiday break when my mother took out from the attic the Christmas decorations and asked me, as she
did every year, to help her decorate the house.
My mind was still fixated on that Santa Claus, which caused my mood for decorating to run low.
And then the idea came to my mind
"Mom , do you think grandma would want me to decorate her house ?"
My grandparents ( from my mothers side) were living downstairs and my grandmother had a beautiful foyer of all glass which was a perfect place to decorate with Christmas Angels , snow flakes , sparkles and garlands.
"Why don't you ask her," My mother replied.. "She will like that"
I rushed downstairs to convince my grand mother I could decorate the front of her home.
"What do you want from me ?" My grandmother replied - "I know you, you have put something in your mind !"
"Well, I replied to my grandmother .. If you are completely happy with my decorations, I want you to buy me the die-cut Santa Claus which Mr Dinos has in his vitrine"
"How much does it cost?"
"Only 25 drachmas "
"25 drachmas ? "My grandmother replied as if she would have a heart attack
"But it's collectible,"I replied ..."a beautiful collectible ... From Germany"
At that point I do not know if Mr Dino's spirit had possessed me and I was talking like him
"No forget it" my grandmother said "I do not need any help decorating."
Nonetheless, I felt bad for my grandmother and I decided to go ahead and decorate her home with all my talent and skill.
I cut , improvised, glued, painted, sprayed and at the end grandmom's foyer looked stunning.
The success of my decorating was so great that she received complements from all of her neighbor friends over the next days.
I had finally decided that Mr Santa Claus from Germany would not be part of my Christmas gifts, so I tried to avoid passing by the mini market store.
Until one day before Christmas, when my mother sent me to Mr Dinos store to buy some candles for Christmas night's dinner.
Then I finally noticed
Mr Santa Claus wasn't there ! He was gone ... He was gone and Mr Dinos confirmed it when he saw me looking around in the vitrine
"By the way he said with a smirk on his face ... Remember the Santa Claus ? I sold it !"
"You did ? " I replied with sadness
"Yes , I told you it was collectible ... From Germany !"
What devastating news! What a dark Christmas I would pass, I thought as I was returning home
And that Santa Claus was really one of its kind.
Fortunately for me, on Christmas Day I found out that the buyer of that Santa Claus was no one else other than my grandmother, who placed it gently under the tree as a Christmas gift for me!
As for the price, let me tell you, my grandmother didn't pay 25 drachmas as she revealed to me the following day.
"What 25 drachmas and nonsense you are telling me Dino" she said to mini market owner
"You remember the time you first came to our neighbor and my husband ( who was a gifted carpenter) helped you with your store shelves taking almost nothing for his work ?
Here take 15 drachmas and we are even"
"But , but" Mr Dinos replied ... "It's from Germany , it's a collectible"
My grandmother gave him a look , left the 15 drachmas on the counter and said
"Dinos how many years you know my family?"
"From the day I came to the neighbor and open the store ... More than 25 years"
"Exactly , my grandmother replied ... Do I look as I care where this piece of paper was made ? Come on , wrap it for a gift and do not say anything to my grandson, just in case he comes around the store ! "
Now days I stare at the glamour, resin Santa under the Christmas tree, remembering once again the memories from years of innocent and simplicity!