Dimos was in the process of inviting his friends to his diner on the afternoon before Christmas for a luncheon. “Like last year, I’m sure our wives would be pleased to be with friends and have a day off before the big hustle,” he explained. “And, due to the Flu epidemic, the diner is all ours.” “Oh, we’ll be there and thanks,” John responded with a big smile. George, too, happily accepted the invitation. Kipreos, sadly, had to decline since he’d be working at the hotel that afternoon. “It sure would be nice being with you guys. But, that’s what comes with being pastry chef. Sorry!” Everyone expressed their disappointment. “But, if you can get out early, Kipreos, we’d be happy to see you.”
Turning towards Yiannis, Dimos extended the invitation once again. But, Yiannis was busily sipping his coffee as he reached out for his second donut, the sprinkled one. “We’ll? What about you, Yiannis? I’m sure Areti would like to join us. You can spare the time, surely. Your daughter, Barbara will be home with the twins and her husband. Right?”
“Right! But, Areti has made plans for that afternoon. I don’t want to disappoint her. Thanks, anyway.” Everyone registered surprise. George’s brows lowered with suspicion. He couldn’t believe that Yiannis, of all people, would turn down an invitation for Dimos’ annual invitation and, more especially, a free meal. He said, “Maybe you can talk her out of it.”
Yiannis remained calmly quiet. Then, he shrugged, saying, “well, we’d love to be with you guys. But, this year is different. Areti has it all planned.”
With that settled, the afternoon at Dixon’s went by as usual. But, George wouldn’t let it go. Yiannis turning down a three course luncheon didn’t sound right. A telephone to Areti to inquire wasn’t possible since Yiannis would be home when his wife called her. He’d know that they were checking. So, he did a bit of thinking. “Hah!” uttered George, his brain hitting on an idea.
George’s wife went to see Areti with a plate of Koulourakia as an opener. They had a private moment in the kitchen. It turned out that Yiannis, especially chosen for his ample weight, had accepted a job playing Santa Claus at a local department store, the rewards being a day’s pay and lunch. That meant Areti would be home, alone. Huh!
Alas, on short notice due to the spread of the Flu epidemic the manager of the department store decided to cancel the Santa visit because the children could be exposed unnecessarily. That meant Yiannis was out of that nice pay check and lunch.
Looking at the red and white fur trimmed suit that was now useless over a sofa chair, he fretted, wondering how to redeem himself and join the others at the diner.
The day of days arrived and Dimos’ diner saw all his friends seated at the long table set with crystal glasses, silverware, and porcelain dishes with an elaborate Christmas decoration in the center. The chef sat with them after spreading out the buffet. About to form a line at the buffet the front door burst open, suddenly, causing every head to turn towards a clamor by the door. Every head snapped up and every hand froze as they witnessed a bell ringing, red and white suited figure of Santa Claus at the door that Dimos forgot to lock. Completely dazed, Dimos got to his feet and headed towards the door to investigate what the interloper thought he was doing. In a high pitched voice, the bell ringer called out, “Ho ho ho, everybody. Merry Christmas.” And, again in Greek. Dimos paused, a broad grin spread on his face when he spotted a smiling and waving Areti who had entered behind the Santa. She greeted everyone, happily joining the others who were ecstatic at seeing her. Removing the white beard, Yiannis, too, greeted everyone, enthusiastically, one eye on his friends and the other on the sumptuous food spread on the buffet. Eyes sparkling, he uttered, “Sorry we’re late.” Dimos believed Areti, possibly, changed her husband’s mind. Hmm! A Christmas miracle? Observing the scene, George had a change of heart, deciding to believe that Yiannis had chosen friends before profit. Hmm! A Christmas miracle? Yiannis was heartened by George’s sincere and warm greetings toward him. Hmm! Another Christmas miracle?