The Blue Ornaments

Posted by: Maria Atalanti

Published on: 11/12/2023

Back to Blog


It was Christmas season many years ago. At that time, I was working in the traffic department of Nicosia Municipality, located on the bastion of Davila, on the Venetian walls of Nicosia, above Eleftheria Square. My job was to collect fines. Not a pleasant duty at all. Every day, I dealt with angry people who cursed, threatened, and created all sorts of problems. Some we only saw once, but others were daily occurrences. Perhaps because their homes or jobs were in a controlled area, and they often received fines for violating the rules without any intention of complying to avoid reporting.

Among them was a bar owner on a street in old Nicosia. He would come, shout, curse, threaten, believing that this behavior would solve his problem. He had no intention of changing his habits to avoid being reported. Some who knew him a little better claimed that he was involved in other illegal activities. In other words, a person from the other side of society.

That year, a colleague had brought some unused decorations from her home, and we decorated a small tree at the entrance of the office. What was special about those decorations was that they were all blue, presenting a unique image of beauty and shine. From Eleftheria Square, where children’s choirs were performing, Christmas songs were heard, and a festive atmosphere prevailed everywhere.

It was then that I saw, through the window of my office door, the bar owner coming and entering, ready for a fight,. I had no desire to argue with him or listen to his shouts. After informing him that the responsible officer was not in the office, I sternly told him to wait in the small hallway at the entrance.

To my surprise, he obeyed and went outside. He was not particularly robust; on the contrary, he was short, but that didn’t stop him from being threatening. I watched him from the window, fearing he might destroy the small Christmas tree. At one point, I observed him looking around, making sure no one saw him, and slowly approaching the tree.

“It’s over,” I thought. “The tree is gone; the blue ornaments are gone!”

And then something happened that I never expected, never imagined. This man extended his hand, touched the ornaments with his fingers, and played with them like a five-year-old child. The hardness in his face relaxed, and he seemed almost happy. I tried to discreetly watch him so as not to be noticed. This play was not momentary. It lasted long enough until the next citizen arrived to pay his fine and the return of the office manager, for the man to enter his usual state, and start cursing.

We humans tend to reject those who are not like us and categorize them into another class, excluding them from virtues such as sensitivity, love, and tenderness. We think that all these apply only to us and our kind. However, it seems that every human heart, in some aspect, possesses all the gifts, even if the person appears rough and unrefined.

Since then, every holiday season, I think of that man who confirmed to me that we all hide tenderness within us, and if it is in a dormant state, who knows why. If there is a message for us this Christmas, it is not to be critical but tolerant of diversity. We never know what is happening in the hearts and lives of other people. This is love.



2 responses to “The Blue Ornaments”

  1. Anna TASSOU REDOR says:

    Maria ,tu écris en Français maintenant?
    Bravo ,pour l’écriture et le récit.

    • Maria Atalanti says:

      Όχι Άννα μου δεν γράφω στα γαλλικά. το κείμενο είναι στα αγγλικά. Μάλλον το κομπιούτερ σου έκανε την μετάφραση!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *