Sharing a Paximadia (Greek cookie)

lenthangIn Greek culture, Paximadia is a toasted Lenten cookie made with almonds and citrus. They have a hard texture and are a bit crumbly, and ideally dunked with your favorite cup of coffee. Or in my case, with a small bottled water.  I find it fitting that Paximadia was shared with me during this Lenten season.

My driver was in the hotel lobby at 12:15 p.m., right on time. He asked me how my day was going and helped me with my luggage. As I got settled in the back seat, I noticed a foil-covered pan in the passenger front seat.

I detected a heavy European accent when he spoke to me, so I asked my driver where he was from. He proudly told me he was from Greece and had been in the U.S. 40 years. I told him about the Greek community north of Tampa in Tarpon Springs that my husband and I visited. It’s a cute little town on the bay with Greek restaurants and shops. I told him about the annual “Epiphany Dive for the Cross” in Tarpon Springs. (FYI, this is the largest observance in the U.S. outside of Greece!).

He came to the U.S. 40 years ago to make money and send back to his family in Greece. He originally planned to be here a couple of years.  Two years soon became five. He was so excited to share that he made close to $25,000 after 5 years; “that was a lot of money back then”.  So he kept working and told his family he would stay a few more years and then never left.  He tries to go back to Greece each year to see his family.

He and his wife raised 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy ranging from 22 years to 13 years old. He has 3 grandchildren, too. His wife cooks dinner every night for the entire family. The 3 married girls and their families live in the same neighborhood. Every night the entire family eats a home-cooked dinner together. I told him how rare it was for me to hear that a family spends quality time together every night and eats dinner together.

So I was too curious and had to asked “is that your lunch in the foil-covered pan?”  He said, “no, my wife loves to bake, too. Here you must try these cookies.” He opened the foil and handed the pan to me. I took a cookie, and he insisted that I take another. Since I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, I was grateful for the cookie. Then he handed me one of his water bottles he had in the front seat along with some tissues for a napkin. I wrapped the second cookie in the tissue to share with my husband once I landed in Tampa.

He chatted some more about his family, and we turned into the airport. As he pulled over to park, I asked how much I owed him. I couldn’t believe when he told me the flat rate because I had paid double the day before from the airport to the hotel!

I paid him cash and told him no need for change. He got out of the car and got my luggage out for me. As I reached out my hand to shake and thank him for the ride, he kissed both my cheeks – the European way, you know. He thanked me and said “God has blessed you to be a beautiful person.”

As I walked through the airport to my gate, I held back tears. It never dawned on me that he would thank me. I was just another passenger in his day . . . Maybe it was because I spoke to him. Maybe because I cared enough to ask about his life and family. Maybe because I shared a home-baked cookie from his wife.  Maybe it is because I was Positive!

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Norma
    Apr 13, 2014 @ 11:25:38

    Lovely and positively touching!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

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