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Greek-American Stories: Holiday Hints

George told the others sitting around the table that Sunday at Dixon’s about Areti telephoning his wife to ask if she got an invitation for Thanksgiving Day at Dimos’ diner. “I’m sure Yiannis put it up to her to ask,” briskly stirring his coffee, then he added, “God forbid he had to buy a turkey and all the stuff that comes with it.” Dimos laughed. “I am a little late mentioning it, but, he knows every year we celebrate it at my diner. What’s he worried about?” George nodded with vigor. “He’ll breakout in a sweat if he had to open his wallet and buy all the stuff that goes with the Turkey.” Just then, the object of conversation walked over, coffee in hand. He sat down after greeting them, eyeing the donuts. “Well! The holidays are coming, right?” “Right!” muttered the others between sips of coffee. “Let’s see! First, there’s Halloween. Then, there’s…let’s see…Oh, yeah! Election Day.” He looked around. No one added anything. He continued. “Then, there’s…ahhh.”

“Then, there’s, ‘what’?” asked Kipreos, his brain searching for what came next. “Of course! St. Anargyros Day?” offered John, innocently. Impatience rattled Yiannis’ good humor. “That’s no special holiday! Besides! We don’t know any Anarygroses!” “Someone’s birthday?” asked John, stifling a laugh. They all watched, amused, as Yiannis stirred his coffee so hard it began to spill over the sides. “October and November are known for a lot of holidays – holidays we all enjoy. But, isn’t there one that’s always been really special?” George said, “well, maybe, Christmas shopping and the decorating stuff.”

“That’s December stuff, George!” Yiannis responded, annoyed. “I’m talking October and November.” A silence fell over them as Dimos continued to dodge Yiannis’ hints. Then, he said, “I know!”  Yiannis looked up, hopefully. “Yeah, yeah? What is it?”

John slyly winked across at Dimos. “Of course! How could we forget! October 28th. “OXI’ Day! When we all meet on Fifth Avenue for the great parade,” Dimos smiled, broadly. “That’s what you tried to recall, right, Yiannis?” Yiannis sulked. “Not…not exactly.”

John added, “and, as usual, you’re all invited for a few drinks and the wonderful desserts my wife will prepare.”

Thanksgiving Day seemed remote and nonexistent. “Wait minute, guys! Isn’t there a holiday when Turkey is eaten,” Yiannis asked. Kipreos’s head lifted from his donut. “I ate a turkey sandwich at lunch, yesterday. I don’t wait for a holiday to eat a turkey sandwich.” “But, there’s a day when everyone gets together because it’s a special holiday, Kipreos,” grumbled Yiannis. Then, realizing that he was being a little too anxious and outspoken, he used more caution. “I mean…” he began. “…ahh, what’s the name of that holiday. It’s on the tip of my tongue.” George, nodding sarcastically, eyeing the empty donut dish, said, “Food is always on the tip of your tongue, Yiannis.”

Finally, Dimos decided to end Yiannis’ frustrations. “You mean, Thanksgiving Day, Yiannis?” Yiannis brightened. “That’s it! Thanksgiving Day!” He now expected to hear about the invitation. But, was met with silence. John brought up another subject that was discussed with enthusiasm while Yiannis sulked, his mind reflecting a gloomy picture celebrating with the raucous twin grandkids, turning his apartment into a battle field, his loud, complaining, hungry in-laws, his son-in-law’s opinions on politics, and his daughter who will, no doubt, complain about his frugal habits and – oh, God! Having to pay for it all, too. Then, growing more downcast, he asked, “Dimos, will your diner be open on that day?” Dimos nodded, “I’m always closed on that day, as you know. Why do you ask?” Shrugging, Yiannis said, “Well, Areti needs a little rest. You know, working all week, poor woman. I thought…maybe, we should eat out for a change.” Dimos nodded and sipped his coffee, nonchalantly. Observing Yiannis’ downcast expression and growing pallor, he asked, “something wrong?” Yiannis shrugged, heaved a sigh, and shook his head. “No, no!”

Dimos, worried that they could lose a friend, told him, “of course, we expect you and Areti at the diner on Thanksgiving Day, as usual.” Yiannis looked up, elation nearly overcoming him. He paused, as if giving the invitation consideration. Then, with composure, said, “oh, sure. Why not?” And, as the story goes, ‘All’s well that ends well!”

Next stop: Christmas. Happy holidays, everyone!



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