Six eggs, a bottle of olive oil, two fish and a piece of spinach pie. . . each a gift given us by a Greek friend in our small fishing village in the rural Peloponnese.
|Christmas decorations in the village|
With each gift, I thought of the fellow, another expat, who had proclaimed a few weeks ago on Facebook that Christmas was cancelled this year because the COVID prevention lockdown had been extended to January 7th and stores would be closed.
I felt sorry for him, not so much for missing the retail-based holiday he envisioned, but for not yet realizing that gift giving here is not done by the calendar and holiday; it comes from the heart and as such, nothing can cancel it. Not even COVID lockdown. The Season of Gifts is year-round:
Six Eggs - a Christmas gift
|Six eggs gathered fresh for us|
My friend's eyes twinkled as she handed me the small plastic bag with six eggs in it a few weeks ago. Mine teared up. She'd chased us down to give us the gift as we walked the road along the harbor in the village; the road on which she lives. With the help of a bystander who translated her Greek, she told me they were fresh, gathered that morning. And they were for us.
Always clad in black - both garments and scarf holding her white hair in place - she is usually busy sweeping the area in front of her home when we pass. I don't know when our waves and nods to each other moved into friendship, but they did some time ago. Perhaps it was when I began admiring her plants, despite my Greek being as limited as her English. I still don't know her name, nor she mine. But we both brighten when we happen to meet.
|The street on which my friend lives|
Last Christmas I decided to surprise my friend with a poinsettia. The exclamation of surprise and the delight reflected in her smile was one of the high points of that holiday season.
As spring, summer and fall came and went in the village, she has presented me with plant starts and seeds from spent blooms from the garden she grows in a hodge-podge of planters in front of her home.
Fish and Oil - Autumn thank you gifts
Captain Antonis, is the village fisherman with whom we had our outing last September. (If you missed that post, read it here). In addition to writing about the trip here, I posted photos of our excursion on my Facebook page. When we next saw the Captain he said he doesn't 'do' social media and tapping his heart (as they do when thanking someone here) said I had helped others know about his tours.
|Basil seed and fish - a season of gifts|
He gave me a large bottle of his olive oil to thank me. Much later in the fall we saw the Captain one morning displaying his catch of the day at our village fish market. When I asked what kind of fish he'd caught, he insisted on bagging up two of them for us to take home and try. No charge - just a tap of his hand on his heart and again, we were told, 'it is for you.'
|A gift of fresh pressed olive oil|
In early December the Captain presented us with yet another bottle of his olive oil - this one fresh pressed. When I told him I couldn't take it - that he'd already given us many gifts -- he tapped his heart, shook his head and said, 'this is for you.'
Spinach Pie - Just Because
|The Scout and Joanna - pre-COVID photo|
Our friend Joanna, runs one of our favorite village tavernas up in a hillside village a few kilometers from us. Her restaurant has been shut down for weeks as result of our COVID lockdown restrictions on restaurant operations. We were delighted to bump into her a few weeks ago when we stopped for takeout drinks at one of our village tavernas.
|Home-made spinach/feta pie|
As we were chatting together she suddenly said, 'I have something for you in my car!' She returned with an enormous foil-wrapped piece of spinach pie. 'I made a big one, so I give some to my friends.'
A Season of Gifts - In a time of Lockdown
|Village decorations 2019|
Looking back across the seasons in this year of COVID uncertainty, we recall the bag of eggs brought to us by the man who trimmed our grove in the spring. The pomegranates given us by friends in late summer when our tree failed to produce any fruit and they had more than they could use.
The gifts have come as gifts should - unexpectedly and with 'just for you' as a reason -- even during a time of lockdown when many are feeling the economic pinch that the prolonged shutdown is causing.
|'To Go' Meals always include something extra|
A handful of local eateries and tavernas are open providing 'to go' food and drink. As we make purchases from them, their generosity, often leaves us touching our hearts in thanks.
At our favorite purveyor of pastries and ice cream, we have on several occasions during lockdown, been presented with pastries when we've picked up our cappuccinos. When we object, we are told, 'this will be good with your coffee - take it, eat.'
|Fresh picked gifts|
Across the street at Elli's Restaurant we always find something extra in our 'to go' dinner order just as we did at Melissa's taverna in the neighboring village when we picked up our Christmas dinner. That Christmas dinner (pictured above) came with a salad and dessert on the house as well as a bag of fresh picked oranges and mandarins from the owner's yard.
|Chutney, relish and butter|
We did have Christmas gifts to be sure - and some of the best things imaginable. . .from expat friends we received wine and chocolate, a jar of homemade fruit butter, another of relish, one of chutney, and a a bag of fresh-picked oranges from our neighbor's tree.
|The village Christmas Star|
We hope that your holiday - whatever it is and where ever you celebrate it - was as enjoyable as we found ours to be. As 2020 comes to a close we again want to thank you for the time you've spent with us this year and send wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!
Linking soon with: