A Christmas Story


The Gleaner by Alexandros Papadiamandis

… In the morning, after the liturgy (it was Christmas Eve), the parish priest, Papa-Dimitris, suddenly appeared at the door of the humble dwelling:

‘Glad tidings!’ he addressed her with a smile.
Glad tidings indeed. Who could she expect glad tidings from? ‘I received a letter for you, Achtitsa,’ said the old priest, brushing the snow from his cassock and shawl.
‘Come in, Master!’
‘If only I had a fire,’ she whispered to herself, ‘or a sweet and raki to offer him.’
The priest climbed up the four steps and went over to sit on the stool. He reached into his cassock and pulled out a large envelope covered with a variety of official seals and postage stamps.

‘A letter, you said, Father?’ Achtitsa repeated, just beginning to register what the priest had said.

The letter which he had pulled out from his breast appeared to be open at one end.

‘The ship arrived this morning,’ the priest resumed, ‘and they brought me this now, just as I was leaving church.’

And putting his hand into the envelope, he pulled out a folded paper.


‘The letter is addressed to me,’ he added, ‘but it concerns you.’ ‘What, me? Me?’ repeated the old woman with surprise. Papa-Dimitris unfolded the letter.
‘God saw your suffering and has sent you a little relief,’ said the good priest. ‘Your son has written to you from America.’
‘From America? Yannis! Yannis remembered me?’ the old woman cried for joy, making the sign of the cross and then adding, ‘Glory be to God!’

For the rest of this classic, ‘bittersweet’ Greek Christmas story by Papadiamandis, go here