Cyprus Mail

The best of times, the worst of times

From itchy hand-knitted outfits to a vibrator bought in the belief it was a back massager, Cyprus Mail journalists have had some rum Christmas presents. But there has been gold among the dross


The joy of reading

By Annette Chrysostomou

Presents that change your life for the better are few and far between. I was only six when I received one such gift.

I was in first grade of primary school and had just learnt how to read, and my only experience was reading a couple of paragraphs from school textbooks. Though I liked reading, at that time it was, as far as I remember, more because I enjoyed reading aloud in class. The important thing was to be fluent and stress the right words. Content came a distant third, at least I can’t remember what I read, just how it was done.

This changed when I received not just my first book, but my first three books for Christmas. Three volumes of Pippi Langstrumpf, probably better known as Pippi Longstocking by our readers.

A timely gift, as I had the Christmas holidays to read them, which I did. And the subject was one likely to inspire a little girl – a nine-year-old girl doing just what she wants as she does not live with her parents (her father being a pirate and thus busy at sea, though he would come home from time to time and bring her a treasure, some gold and silver to live with, only to go back to more adventures). No, she lived with her horse and a monkey in a villa, didn’t go to school of course and was on top of it super strong and clever – in short, what more could a girl want!

So, this is in a nutshell why I got carried away, felt inspired, and my love for books started there and then and never left me.

The rest is history. I soon became the member of the local library who took out more books than any other kid, and much later worked as a librarian for nearly 20 years.

Sure, I would probably have found myself drawn to the world of books sooner or later, but the way it happened was just perfect.

My worst present – a garish green outfit – I received maybe three years later. This one was ‘homemade,’ knitted and crochetted by a family friend, and was as scratchy as only pure wool clothes can be.

The family friend had obviously spent a lot of time producing this top and skirt, which made it impossible for me to say how much I hated it. It got worse. It being – in the eyes of my parents at least – such a special gift, I had to wear it to a wedding. Suffice to say I stood out though it is hard to explain what just that shade of green it looked like. I wish I could explain, but since I don’t have a photo just imagine the most hideous colour you can and you may get close.

The good news? Girls that age grow fast, and I didn’t wear it often before it was too small for me and thankfully it was soon decided I was too old to be kitted out in knitted outfits.


Nottingham in the snow

A trip on my own

By Gina Agapiou

The best Christmas present I received is a trip I treated myself to on my birthday which falls on December 24.

Travelling is one of the few things in the 21st century that I am willing to pay good money for. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cyprus but spending this holiday in snow-covered Nottingham for my 18th birthday just felt right.

Travelling alone was the best way to celebrate and it definitely made Christmas celebrations that more exciting.

I needn’t say how beautiful the scenery was, how much I enjoyed sight-seeing and shopping. Perhaps what I enjoyed even more was visiting the nearby 24/7 supermarket at night and buying one pound of chocolates.

Let’s just say I am grateful for my metabolism back then!

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Well, Marilyn, not for this one. Especially if they’re fake. If a trip is the best way to ‘spend’ your money, jewellery is certainly the worst ‘investment’. So you can imagine my enthusiasm when I received not one, but three jewellery sets by the same person one Christmas.

Trying to act… as most women would act when they receive such a gift, I tried them all. As far as I remember following my allergic reaction, there were three necklaces and two pairs of earrings. Flashy, glittery and sparkly. Worried about how well the person who gave them to me knew me, I asked if they can be returned. “For store credit,” they said, and of course not the earrings.

The gift of seeing a place through new eyes

I liked rap but …

By Jonathan Shkurko

I am normally quite pleased with whatever gift I get for Christmas. Knowing that someone took time to actually think about you, let alone buy you a present, is a pleasant feeling. That and the old saying, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, which for me is always the right attitude to have.

However, there was one time in which I was so baffled by the gift I received that I genuinely thought it was a joke.

This was back in 2007. At the time, I was really into rap music and my friends knew about it.

One in particular thought it was a great idea to build up my street credibility by buying me a giant fake golden chain.

The fact that it was fake was definitely not the problem. Had it been actual gold, it would have cost around €100,000.

What shocked me was the fact that the chain had “Cash, Guns & Bitches” slapped across it!

It had to be a joke, right? I saw the friend a couple of days later and, when he asked me whether I liked the gift, I laughed and sarcastically told him: “Yes, you really nailed my style!”

I guess he didn’t catch my sarcasm because his reply was “I was sure you were going to like it, I’ll show you where I got it so you can get more!”

Apart such rare exceptions I have at least appreciated, every single Christmas gift I’ve received through the years.

One in particular really struck the right chord.

The year 2011 was not great for me, I had moved to London to study two years before and, after the first year full of excitement and new friends in a new country, I was seriously homesick and out of love with the place.

So, when I went home for Christmas and found a book under the tree from my grandma titled ‘10 Great Things To Do In London’, I was slightly disappointed.

However, she also left me a card in the book, which said: “I know this was not a great year for you, but maybe this book will give new ideas for things to do in London next year, and you can think of me while doing them.”

Even though I had already done two or three of the things listed in the book, she was right, that gift gave me new ideas for my time in London and my grandma motivated me to explore and get more out of my free time.


You bought a what?

Christmas mortification

By Bejay Browne

You may think the annual pair of fluffy slippers from Aunty Edna are dull or the ‘worst’ present ever, but let me tell you how wrong you are.

First, you have to understand how presents are opened in our family. Each one is opened one by one with everyone else looking on to exclaim and eulogise over as we gather by the tree. It is a wholly public affair.

So now you can imagine how embarrassing it is to open, in your early 20s, what can only be described as a ‘female pleasuring tool’ in front of your entire family.

The ‘gifter’, who shall remain nameless and had until that moment held the prestigious title of ‘aunt’ (a moniker for close family friends), thought she was gifting me a ‘back massager’. It’s hard to say whose crimson blush was more pronounced.

Sadly, the ground didn’t swallow either of us up and as batteries had been included, the contraption was merrily passed around, which all, apart from the giver and the receiver, found hilarious. Needless to say, this tale is often relived and regurgitated with much mirth at my expense.

There was also the time I received a wrapped whole coconut as a present, but that is for another time.

The best Christmas present for me is always spending time with family and friends. It may sound twee, but it’s true. Making memories and being around people that love and care for each other is a real gift and one that not everyone is lucky enough to experience.

It may not be something that you can place under a tree, in a stocking or unwrap, but for such times, I am eternally grateful.


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