The holidays are drawing closer, school is over, the teachers have set sail – and the crib is up in the square and illuminated. Well, partly illuminated.
As I step closer for the photo, ten-year-old Angelos appears out of the shadows of his mum’s ζαχαροπλαστειο (or: sweets shop) and musters the plastic Holy Family thoughtfully.
“You’re quite tall”, he says to me, stating the obvious.
I nod in agreement.
“Almost as tall as that Magus there with the dark head.”
He points at one of the Three Wise Men surrounding the couple and their child.
I am just about to point out something about skin colour when Angelos concludes: “His light went out.”
He doesn’t mean that figuratively, but literally.
“Do you see?”, he says. “The baby is not lit either. Neither is the lamb.”
He is right.
“What happened?”, I ask him, thinking about crisis, electricity bills, austerity measures and the lot.
“Well”, he says, “the head of the tall guy banged against the roof of the stable, see?” He climbs in to demonstrate how the reed roof rests on Balthazar’s head. “That messed around with the cables. And I threw the baby and the lamb into the sea one year.”
“Did you really?”
“That’s what people tell me, at least. I can’t remember… and you know how rumours are generated here.”
He continues to stare at the unlit child in the crib and then turns and swaggers back towards the closed shop.
“Happy holidays!”, he shouts and adds: “I don’t think I want to grow as tall as you. People die when they grow very tall.”
As he sees that I am slightly taken aback, he smiles: “But you know how people tell stories here. Just don’t believe everything you hear!”
Merry Christmas, Angelos!