lettersforchristmas2:

Llia: “I was so excited when the time came on Christmas Day. So excited. So excited. TOO excited. Apparently, I passed out, and it was serious enough to warrant summoning the GP for a home visit on the big day – the worst, most guilt-inducing day to have a home visit.”


Can you tell me a funny Christmas story – something that really happened and still makes you laugh?

When I was small, on Christmas Eve my mum tied my hair into loads of tiny braids. I’d like to say that I sat there patiently while she risked RSI in her wrists from the repeated plaiting, but I probably didn’t. It must have taken hours; I have pretty thick hair and it was long.

On Christmas Day, the time came to undo the braids and reveal the glorious 80s-style crimped locks. I was so excited. So EXCITED. SO EXCITED. TOO excited. Apparently, I passed out. I don’t remember what happened, but it was serious enough to warrant summoning the GP for a home visit on the big day – the worst, most guilt-inducing day to have a home visit. 

She said I was just over-excited and that there was nothing wrong with me. So, that’s one of my favourite Christmas stories. For anyone who knows me, the fact that I fainted with excitement over my hair is probably not a huge surprise.

Do you – or did you – have any specific Christmas traditions? 

My family is Cypriot, so we mainly just focus on eating a lot. At least every hour, no excuses – all the while bemoaning how fat we’ve all got. 

My fiancé is an honorary Cypriot when it comes to food consumption, so he fits right in. We just have to make one extra thing for Christmas lunch for him: a jug of gravy. We didn’t grow up having it on our roast dinners. We had greek yoghurt instead.


Who does Christmas always remind you of? Perhaps it’s someone you miss? Can you can tell me something about that person?

I lost my grandfather in January. His birthday was a few days after Christmas, so my memories of this time of year are inextricably linked with him. 

He was a British policeman in Cyprus and moved to the UK with his young family. My grandfather loved to tell us stories. Stories from when he was a policeman usually featured some form of bribery, and many of them ended with “…and then we ran away”. When he came to the UK, he worked hard to provide for his family, and over the years he became a shrewd businessman.

My grandmother passed away suddenly around the time he retired. I think it’s fair to say that his heart broke. He surprised us all though, by learning how to use a computer, then the internet, then a BlackBerry phone. He’d use the web to find photos and articles about Cyprus, he’d email and Skype his business contacts and friends, and he loved finding Greek language TV and music. He’d forever be breaking things on his PC and pretending he hadn’t played with the settings. (He always had.)

For the last ten years of his life, he lived with my parents. My father took a significant role as a carer, particularly in the last few years. My grandfather could be a bit of a handful, but we all loved him dearly. 

My sister gave birth in September, bringing my wonderful niece Rose into the world. We all wish that he had got to meet her – he would have loved her sweet temperament and chubby cheeks. I got engaged in April, and the thought of him missing my wedding is already on my mind. 

Our first Christmas without him is going to be sad. But we’ll have some sweet Commanderia wine, we’ll tell his stories, and we’ll remember him.

[Photo 1: Phil and Llia]
[Photo 2: Papou Andy]

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