Cherishing memories of a Cypriot Christmas

Keeping the Peace
By Tom Lessard, CD

I spent Christmas 1967 stationed at Lizard Flats outside Nicosia, Cyprus, which had at one time been used during the Jewish exodus from Germany to Palestine. It was pretty run-down and in a way reminded us of Ipperwash.
A sergeant oversaw the junior ranks canteen. During the holidays, he would allow only one song to be played on the jukebox: “Green, Green Grass of Home.” Not a very cheery song for the young soldiers spending this time of year away from home. I’m sure the bartenders spent a lot of time mopping up the tears.
I was fortunate to be involved with organizing a Christmas party for the sick children’s hospital. It was the only place on the island where Turks and Greeks mingled. We sent home for toys, goodies and clothes for the kids, and got quite a load. We got one of the guys to dress as Santa, loaded up a couple of vehicles, and made our way to the hospital. The kids were waiting for us. Well, I was never so thrilled and choked up as when I saw the delight in those kids’ faces. They had a wonderful day, as did we.
I wonder if, after 40 years, any who are still alive remember that day. I do, and will never forget those little guys.