It was dark, and cold, and quiet, in exactly the way that you expect the night before Christmas to be dark and cold and quiet, and it was easy to believe that the world was holding its breath and waiting for something to happen, despite the fact that this was Thessaloniki after all, a faithless unbeliever of a place that would never admit to associating Christmas with magic. And I was lost, not entirely, where-the-hell-am-I lost, just which-way-was-it-again lost, but even so that is not something I would have thought possible ten years ago; however it seems that seven years of being away punctuated by increasingly infrequent visits are enough to make you forget something you once knew inside-out.

And so I turned left around the wrong corner, and ended up in an utterly-familiar-and-yet-somehow-strange alley, and there, in the middle of it, there was an open door, with candle light seeping out from it, and I walked towards it like a moth to the light, to find myself in a tiny chapel that I of course have always known was there but had forgotten, and I stood in front the box full of candles and I picked one, and lit it from an existing candle and pushed it down into the sand on the tray, and for all I know I might have made the sign of the cross, such is the power of habits learned in childhood. And since I could not think of a single thing to wish for or a single person to dedicate this to, I stood there in silence for a moment, staring at the new flame with nothing on my mind, waiting, hoping; and then it came to me, and it encompassed all my hopes in a handful of words; ‘let love grow in my life.’