web analytics

Thoughts on Sts Peter and Paul’s Day

Today we celebrated the Day of two Christian saints, Peter and Paul. Peter was one of Jesus’s disciples who tried to emulate his master and follow him in his footsteps but couldn’t quite do so. He was afraid to walk on water, and, despite his own expectations, refuted Jesus three times. Following the Resurrection, he became the leader of disciples and an ardent professor of faith.

Saul, on the other hand, was a staunch persecutor of Christians until the angel knocked him down and revealed God’s will. And so Saul became Paul and wrote many epistles to pagans and Christians alike. Caravaggio’ The Conversion of Saul depicts the moment of epiphany.

Both eventually martyred: Peter was crucified head down (at his own request), and Paul was beheaded for he was a Ronan citizen. As a result, Paul is often depicted with a sword, as in this painting by El Greco.

Paul may also be depicted with a book which is a nod to his literary activity, and Peter is portrayed with the keys to Kingdom of Heaven in his hand. In this Russian icon another aspect is noticeable: Peter is older and is always on the left side of the picture.

The saints were celebrated in Russia practically since the Christening, and the Cathedral of St Sophia in Kiev has the earliest surviving image of Peter in what was Ancient Rus.

The popular expression says “Peter and Paul reduce the day by an hour”. By August 2nd, St Elijah’s Day, the day will have lost two hours, which is commemorated in another expression.

The story of Peter and Paul is that of a person’s following his or her vocation with faith. At the beginning of this short fasting period I went to St Clement of Rome’s church where I wrote down something of my own epiphany, that Christianity is not about suffering but about faith and service. When one has found their vocation, they should follow it, not in the hope to martyr or to die a peaceful death, but in the determination to fulfill their vocation. Martyrdom or a good death is not the end in itself; the vocation is. The story of Peter and Paul is a good illustration of this thesis. After all, there were St Nicholas and St Spyridon of Trimythous who died a peaceful death but whose contribution to Christianity was no less than that of the apostles’.

There are two lessons Peter and Paul teach us. One, follow your vocation. And two, none of us is ever good enough for a task. Peter betrayed Christ but came to be the guardian of the heavenly Kingdom. Saul used to destroy Christians but eventually became the most ardent propagator of a new religion. Whatever we used to do in the past, we can always change our ways and start anew.

Winter Holidays End

And I don’t know if I had enough rest, but I have a feeling it was good enough. And this is the most important thing.

As of 2021, Russian winter holidays now officially last from December 31st until after January 7th. And although this does not seem like too long a period, it seems I managed to take some rest. If you follow the link to 2021 Xmas category at the end of the post, you will read about what I did. I wanted to visit GUM and to walk in the forest and maybe have a ski walk, but I didn’t. I have some time for a walk, and I might still visit GUM, and hopefully I’ll give a brush to my skis, but in the meantime these are mere plans.

GUM Christmas Trees.

This is what I did:

  • sat in solitude and silence with a garland and a cup of tasty coffee;
  • read a lot;
  • framed my diplomas;
  • walked a lot;
  • ate 3 big cakes;
  • translated a lot into English, including a Bowie-inspired Space O;
  • blogged here practically every day;
  • slept to my heart’s desire.

And I don’t know if I had enough rest, but I have a feeling it was good enough. And this is the most important thing.

winter-holidays
My winter holidays were something like that, cuddled with lots of soft cushions. Courtesy of Tartanscot

More posts in 2021 Xmas.

Russian Orthodox Christmas 2022

The Russian turn-of-the-year holidays are drawing to a close. Today we celebrated the Russian Orthodox Christmas. I didn’t go to the Mass this year, but I sent the cards to my friends and relatives.

I had a walk in the day, and in the evening I enjoyed watching magnificent snowfall. The temperature is falling slowly, it is -12 at the moment, and I am going to have a cup of hot tea before retreating to bed.

Christmas is always about silence and solemn solitude, especially if you celebrate it as a religious festival. But even if it is a secular, family festival for you, it is a good moment to stop and reflect on the values of union, family, childhood, and faith. We live in the time when it is important to have a solid foundation, and Christmas is the moment to think about it.

First Day of 2022

First Day of 2022. I wrote a 2,5K words article on Russian Orthodox Christmas gifts.

On the first day of 2022 I wrote 16 thousand characters without spaces on the subject of Russian Orthodox Christmas gifts. Now I could find a present with my eyes closed, literally. While writing the article, I thought of a life-hack: couldn’t we just put down in a notepad what presents we gave to people? It would help to save so much time and money, trying to figure out what gift may suit whom!

Apparently, January 1 and 2 are perfect to draw plans for 2022 and conclusions for 2021. Which is precisely what I am doing now. Even though I no longer write NY resolutions, I do make plans.

What about you? How was your New Year night and January 1st? I keep marveling at just how excellent the calendar is. First, December 25th and 25th fell on the weekend, and now January 1st and 2nd also fall on the weekend.

Is this what you call “serendipity“?

PS – In the photo is the New Year tree in my Moscow flat. In the past several years we decorated the balcony, hanging the garlands and baubles, and we also set a New Year tree there. It is just two years younger than me.

first day of 2022
My Christmas decorations on the balcony

Other posts in 2021 Xmas.

New Year Night 2022

Miracles happen when you do things you love

Years ago I always used to draw conclusions at the end of the year. I also wrote resolutions, which for one reason or another didn’t rush to happen, so I stopped. New Year night 2022 is going to be different. 

I write my dreams instead and enlist the actions I should undertake to see them coming true. I also write all fears connected with those wishes coming or not coming true. And then the new year begins.

I came across this technique in the personal growth marathon by Elena Blinovskaya, and I’ve been using it since. I personally like her idea that we don’t need to spread ourselves thin trying to leave no stone unturned on the road to our dreams. Reaching goals and realizing dreams should be nice and easy, and this is precisely what Elena helps people to do.

Informational business is currently on the rise. I secretly déplore the fact that I didn’t have enough foresight, or I’d be blogging a bit differently. But everything has the reason, so I just recall what fantastic dividends I had on all my unmonetised efforts. A film director I interviewed for my community radio program won an Oscar; I was interviewed on BBC 3 months after I’d started blogging in 2006; LCJ was honoured as a Google Blog of Note on its third anniversary; and many more events happened that highlight one point:

Miracles happen when you do things you Love.

There’s no point trying to make yourself do something you’d rather not do. Of course, we need to make a living somehow, but it’s better and less disheartening to earn a modest salary but enjoy what you do than get decent money while knowing you are wasting your lifetime. Especially today, amidst the troubles, doing the job you love is paramount as we need more positive feelings and emotions to survive.

As 2021 is about to end, I wish all of us to stay safe and sane, to nurture our faith and to strengthen the spirit, and to take care of our physical body. We are all here for a reason, and after all, we have already survived a few epidemics, like aviary flu, atypical pneumonia, and Ebola virus. We are still alive, which means we can stay alive again.

To the good, healthy and wealthy 2022!

new year night 2022

Other posts in 2021 Xmas.

My 2021

Overall, my 2021 was quite good. I am grateful for all moments.

My 2021 was a good year, overall. After a tough yet very eventful and successful 2020 my body and mind were so overwhelmed that I was forced to take it easy – a short stay in the hospital included. I also lost my oldest dog; as much as it was expected, it was hard to bear.

I worked a lot, contributing several hundred articles to numerous websites and blogs and writing content for several e-shops.

I won a poetry translation contest from German into Russian, and my short story was shortlisted for a Roskosmos contest and published in a collection with other great entries.

I printed my fairy tale and am waiting for my long story to be printed, too.

Oh, and I’m finally writing a lot here. It’s (just like) starting over.

I’m grateful to 2021 for teaching me a lesson of importance of waiting, planning, and not forcing myself to make things happen.

In short, it was a good year. Thank you, 2021. Bring on 2022!

Other posts in 2021 Xmas

Festive Spirit and Traditions

Where do you get the festive spirit from amidst the cooking and cleaning? Remember about yourself, your life, and your wishes!

I’m reading a lot about people not looking forward to celebrating New Year in Russia. Some are tired, some are angry, some are disillusioned… there have been lots of reason to feel down in the last two years. Festive spirit was spirited away, excuse the pun.

Back in 2009 I also felt ropey: I was laid off in September, amidst the new wave of economic crisis, and by December I still hadn’t found a new job. But I was hopeful: hopeful to find the job and hopeful to pay off what I owed, hopeful to be healthy and happy in 2010, and hopeful that the economy would stabilise. Little did I know that I would go back to Russia in 2010, and the economy would indeed stabilise, and I would never be out of work again.

Albert Square in November 2009

I’m trying to say that we are now in the fantastic period when we are surrounded by glitz and joy. No matter how difficult it may be to brace yourself and feel pleased, we must make an effort because times change. They change because we are not trees – we can move and look at things from a different angle. We can try doing things differently and succeed. There is no need to make vows and resolutions. Just set your sights on making your life a little better each day. A little more effort takes us a long way forward.

My students and I have been reading about English and Scottish festive traditions. It sounds funny, but English seem all about food, whereas Scots are all about home: cleaning it, saining and blessing it, even first-footing it. I have no doubt that food is very important for Hogmanay, but the emphasis really seems to be on one’s home. Two neighbouring countries – and somewhat different festive traditions. Not to mention the fact that Christmas is not so widely celebrated in Scotland, whereas the English do not care much about New Year.

So, where do you get that festive spirit from, amidst all cooking and cleaning? I think it is all about remember the bigger picture. Yes, the holidays come and go, but life goes on, and we’d better make it as joyful and easy for ourselves as we can. I am looking at this Christmas tree now and remembering the one we used to decorate in Moscow. I will share a picture of it with you later. Having a tree with lots of baubles and sparkling lights is a great tradition, and it does not need to be huge. But I’d love to have it huge one day again, like it was in my childhood. Then I’d sit beneath it and marvel at it. And I’d make all the right wishes for them to come true…

Paolo Conte – Boogie

Paolo Conte Boogie plays a lighthearted note to Christmas weekend. Tune in and dance away with your near and dear! Merry Christmas!

Boogie-woogie in full swing

Dietmar and Nellia (in the video below) wooed the hearts of many YouTubers with their top boogie-woogie skill. I thought December 26th being a Sunday, you need some dancing inspiration, so why not turn on this Boogie song by the Italian singer and songwriter Paolo Conte?

Other posts on Paolo Conte.

More about the genre.

Julia Shuvalova – Miracle at Christmas. Part 3

A tale Miracle at Christmas by the Russian Julia Shuvalova inspired by the painting by the American Tom Sierak and set in the British Lake District.

Back in 2019, when we were making The Hammock for the Falling Stars, I wrote two fairy tales. The Welsh one, set in Llandudno and telling about the faeries visiting a tea room, was included in the book. Another one, set in the Lake District, in the town of Bowness-on-Windermere, was a bit too contemporary, so I published it in Russian as a separate book. It is called Miracle at Christmas and tells the story of the fog coming down on the Lakes and “miraculously” going away.

This story was once again inspired by a painting by Tom Sierak. In 2007, I wrote a script for a short video: it was a story about a girl who always stands by the window on Christmas night, waiting for a miracle to happen. And then, 12 years later, this image returned, and this time I wrote a nice fairy tale.

christmas
Tom Sierak, There Really is Santa! (2007)

I can unashamedly state that I absolutely love it! It contains all the magic of a Christmas tale: talking dolls, a grandmother, a non-believing brother, the evil spirits of Lake Windermere who conspire to ruin Christmas, the tine elves who fill rooms with golden magic on Christmas night. And there is a lot of Love and Faith, for without either no miracle can happen.

I see something special in the fact that I wrote this tale ahead of the troublesome 2020. Christmas and New Year holidays are commercialised, and we think about presents more than about less tangible but infinitely more important things. Children boast not believing in Santa Claus or Ded Moroz, but what good does it do to our world if we lose faith? Children do not believe in God, then they lose faith in Santa Claus, and before long they do not trust neither people, nor governments. This is a very sad reality, especially because miracles do happen.

We tend to think that miracle come out of the blue, but as the tale shows, the protagonist, a 9-year-old Linda, still had to do something to make her miracle happen. So, yes: we make our miracles ourselves, by at least having a burning desire, faith, and love.

I translated Part 3 of the tale, in which Linda asks Santa Claus to help raise the fog.

Miracle at Christmas

By Julia Shuvalova. Translated from Russian by the author.

On the morning of the 24th, Sky News, ITV and the BBC all reported that “a very thick fog had descended over the entire North-West of England”. Various weathercasters explained the reasons for this fog, which was not that unusual, but completely unexpected nonetheless. People in Grasmere and Kendal mournfully told reporters they would not be able to go to their families in the Midlands, or even to Manchester and Liverpool, because trains were cancelled and roads were blocked.

Linda heard her grandmother talking to aunt April on the phone. From snatches of conversation she learnt that her parents ‘ arrival was at least delayed. Around four o’clock, unable to stand the uncertainty, she called her mother. Through the constant interference, she understood that her parents would leave the house and head toward the Lake District, but…

As she was leaving the living room and was about to close the door, Linda glanced back. Little elves were filling the space under the Christmas tree with magic.

As she was leaving the living room and was about to close the door, Linda glanced back. Little elves were filling the space under the Christmas tree with magic.

– Linda, my dear girl, I’m sorry, I can’t promise you anything, – her mother said in a sad voice, and Linda’s heart sank. What a fog! Why couldn’t it wait and go down on the 25th! Then parents would have stayed in Windermere and needn’t go to work. And now they will have no Christmas, no gifts, no holiday dinner…

Linda buried her face in the pillow, but quickly got up and ran to her brother, who was watching a TV series.

– Jamie! Let’s write to Santa Claus! He will have the fog to rise, and the parents will come!”

Jamie turned away from the TV and studied his sister.

– Linda, silly girl, even if Santa exists, on December 24, he is flying around the world delivering gifts. Do you think he has the time and strength to clear the fog? And who will deliver this letter to him? – He glanced at his watch. – It’s almost five, and the post office is closed.

The rest of the day dragged on even longer than it usually does on Christmas Eve. No-one wanted to play, tea and cakes tasted no good, and the phone stopped working. Jamie was very excited: he liked the idea that they were completely cut off from the world here in Windermere. “Like on a desert island!” – he exclaimed, peering out of the window into impenetrable fog. Grandma Joyce turned on “Coronation Street” and began knitting. Linda sat on the sofa with her feet up, looking at the Christmas tree that she and her brother had decorated on December 22, and fighting back tears with all her strength.

Despite the stress of the day, sleep did not come to her, so shortly before midnight she dressed and went down to the cold living room, turned on the garland, wrapped herself in a blanket, and climbed into the armchair by the window. Alice the doll sat primly on the windowsill, her sky-blue eyes turned to the night sky.

– Oh, Alice, if you only knew what a dreadful Christmas we are having this year! – Linda said in a low voice and buried her face in the knees. She should have stayed at home with parents.

Suddenly, she felt the room fill with warmth. She raised her head, and sure enough, little folks with transparent oblong wings were fluttering around the room.

– Who are you? – Linda asked in surprise.

– We are the Christmas elves, – she heard a tiny voice say. A little girl with sparkling golden hair hovered in the air just above Linda’s shoulder. – We always fly to people’s homes on Christmas night to fill them with magic! You must have noticed that on the morning of the 25th everything seems different in the entire house, as if gold particles sparkle everywhere. This is our magic! – And she giggled contentedly.

– We won’t have Christmas this year, – Linda said, – because the fog has come down on the Lake District, and my parents won’t come on time.

– Oh, poor thing! – the elf sighed. – But wait, Santa Claus has just started to deliver gifts, if he visits your place, he will definitely help.

– But how will he find us? – Linda exclaimed in despair. – Look at the fog, you can’t see anything!

– Really? – The elf said, unconvinced. – I think Santa travels in all weathers. – And when she saw Linda’s puzzled look, she nodded with conviction: – Definitely so.

Linda turned to the window and stared out into the thick fog. It was a long time before she saw anything. Even the streetlight opposite the house was almost lost in the white haze. But then she noticed that Alice herself had got to her feet and leaned against the window. Following the doll’s gaze, she noticed two lights appear high up in the sky. They did not blink but moved closer, then there became more of them, and soon Linda, throwing away a blanket and jumping off the armchair, was standing at the window – and through the glass she saw a painted wooden sleigh hovering in the air at window level. It was every bit like the one they painted on old postcards, and it was led by the harnessed reindeer flapped their ears. In the sleigh, resting his hand on a large bag with gifts, sat Santa Claus. He was the same age as Grandma Joyce, Linda thought, and he had a long, broad beard, a bushy moustache, and kind eyes behind glasses.

– Hello, dear Alice! – he said, waving a red-gloved hand.

– Hello, dear Santa! Alice replied in a tiny, melodious voice.

– How are my Christmas elves doing preparing your home for the holiday?

– But, of course, – Alice reported. – And all the food has been purchased, Joyce has prepared meat and a pie, and there are still vegetables to cook for dinner. The only thing is…

– What’s the matter? – Santa Claus leaned forward.

– Let Linda tell you all about it, – Alice replied suddenly. – Besides she really wanted to see you.

Santa Claus turned to the girl and looked at her with attention.

– So, Linda, tell me what happened.

Linda blushed: Santa was looking at her so intently and affectionately that for a moment she thought it was wrong to keep him here. After all, the fog will clear sooner or later, except that…

– Dear Santa, we won’t have Christmas, – Linda took a deep breath. – The news says that the roads are blocked because of the fog, and the parents will not get to us. And my aunt and cousin Robert won’t come, either.

– Yes, yes, – Santa Claus nodded, – I know the story. The spirits of Lake Windermere decided to play a joke on the residents this year. My heralds warned me, but I hoped they would have the decency to wait until at least the 26th. I’m sorry, Linda…

– Santa, if I had known better, I would have sent you a letter! – Linda threw up her hands. – But Jamie said the post office was closed, and you were delivering gifts and couldn’t help.

– Jamie thinks I don’t exist, – Santa Claus smiled. – Your brother is growing up too quickly, alas. Of course, you should have written to me and just put the letter in the mailbox. Remember what I wrote to your grandmother? I see you all. I would have known you were asking me to raise the fog, and I would have done something.

– And now, Santa? – Linda was all confused. – Can’t we do anything now?

Santa Claus shrugged.

– Actually, your gifts will still arrive on time, I know that. Maybe it’s not a big deal if you spend Christmas with your grandmother, without your parents?

And here Linda exclaimed excitedly:

– No, Santa, it’s not about our gifts! Don’t you understand?! My father and mother will be left without gifts, I have spent some much time embroidering a cushion for my mother, and I made a beautiful pen case for my father! And I embroidered a pincushion for aunt April! And I bought cousin Robert a book about knights! And Jamie made presents, too! And now we can’t give them! – And her helplessness brought her to tears.

Alice pleaded:

– Please, dear Santa, do something! A long time ago you persuaded the store owner to give me to Joyce. Can’t you get a handle on the spirits of Lake Windermere?

Through the tears on her lashes, Linda could see Santa Claus stroking his beard thoughtfully and adjusting his glasses.

– You’re a good girl, Linda, very much like your grandmother. You know, these spirits are strange creatures, they like to complicate things, but they are not without empathy. I won’t promise anything – I still have to deliver gifts – but I’ll try to do something.

Santa Claus reined in, and the reindeer swayed their antlers and began to move. They rose majestically higher and higher up in the air, and as far as Linda and Alice could see, they were slowly receding into the night. The elf girl sat on Linda’s shoulder and touched the tip of her nose with her wand.

– Linda, it’s time to go to bed! Santa Claus can’t bring gifts if you don’t fall asleep.

– Do you think the fog will clear, Alice? – Linda asked.

Alice settled into her usual position and shrugged.

– Linda, dear, there are things that neither people nor dolls can influence. You did everything you could. Now we can only trust and wait.

As she was leaving the living room and was about to close the door, Linda glanced back. Little elves were filling the space under the Christmas tree with magic.

Jamie! Let’s write to Santa Claus! He will have the fog to rise, and the parents will come!”

Jamie turned away from the TV and studied his sister.

– Linda, silly girl, even if Santa exists, on December 24, he is flying around the world delivering gifts. Do you think he has the time and strength to clear the fog? And who will deliver this letter to him? – He glanced at his watch. – It’s almost five, and the post office is closed.

The rest of the day dragged on even longer than it usually does on Christmas Eve. No-one wanted to play, tea and cakes tasted no good, and the phone stopped working. Jamie was very excited: he liked the idea that they were completely cut off from the world here in Windermere. “Like on a desert island!” – he exclaimed, peering out of the window into impenetrable fog. Grandma Joyce turned on “Coronation Street” and began knitting. Linda sat on the sofa with her feet up, looking at the Christmas tree that she and her brother had decorated on December 22, and fighting back tears with all her strength.

Despite the stress of the day, sleep did not come to her, so shortly before midnight she dressed and went down to the cold living room, turned on the garland, wrapped herself in a blanket, and climbed into the armchair by the window. Alice the doll sat primly on the windowsill, her sky-blue eyes turned to the night sky.

– Oh, Alice, if you only knew what a dreadful Christmas we are having this year! – Linda said in a low voice and buried her face in the knees. She should have stayed at home with parents.

Suddenly, she felt the room fill with warmth. She raised her head, and sure enough, little folks with transparent oblong wings were fluttering around the room.

– Who are you? – Linda asked in surprise.

– We are the Christmas elves, – she heard a tiny voice say. A little girl with sparkling golden hair hovered in the air just above Linda’s shoulder. – We always fly to people’s homes on Christmas night to fill them with magic! You must have noticed that on the morning of the 25th everything seems different in the entire house, as if gold particles sparkle everywhere. This is our magic! – And she giggled contentedly.

– We won’t have Christmas this year, – Linda said, – because the fog has come down on the Lake District, and my parents won’t come on time.

– Oh, poor thing! – the elf sighed. – But wait, Santa Claus has just started to deliver gifts, if he visits your place, he will definitely help.

– But how will he find us? – Linda exclaimed in despair. – Look at the fog, you can’t see anything!

– Really? – The elf said, unconvinced. – I think Santa travels in all weathers. – And when she saw Linda’s puzzled look, she nodded with conviction: – Definitely so.

Linda turned to the window and stared out into the thick fog. It was a long time before she saw anything. Even the streetlight opposite the house was almost lost in the white haze. But then she noticed that Alice herself had got to her feet and leaned against the window. Following the doll’s gaze, she noticed two lights appear high up in the sky. They did not blink but moved closer, then there became more of them, and soon Linda, throwing away a blanket and jumping off the armchair, was standing at the window – and through the glass she saw a painted wooden sleigh hovering in the air at window level. It was every bit like the one they painted on old postcards, and it was led by the harnessed reindeer flapped their ears. In the sleigh, resting his hand on a large bag with gifts, sat Santa Claus. He was the same age as Grandma Joyce, Linda thought, and he had a long, broad beard, a bushy moustache, and kind eyes behind glasses.

– Hello, dear Alice! – he said, waving a red-gloved hand.

– Hello, dear Santa! Alice replied in a tiny, melodious voice.

– How are my Christmas elves doing preparing your home for the holiday?

– But, of course, – Alice reported. – And all the food has been purchased, Joyce has prepared meat and a pie, and there are still vegetables to cook for dinner. The only thing is…

– What’s the matter? – Santa Claus leaned forward.

– Let Linda tell you all about it, – Alice replied suddenly. – Besides she really wanted to see you.

Santa Claus turned to the girl and looked at her with attention.

– So, Linda, tell me what happened.

Linda blushed: Santa was looking at her so intently and affectionately that for a moment she thought it was wrong to keep him here. After all, the fog will clear sooner or later, except that…

– Dear Santa, we won’t have Christmas, – Linda took a deep breath. – The news says that the roads are blocked because of the fog, and the parents will not get to us. And my aunt and cousin Robert won’t come, either.

– Yes, yes, – Santa Claus nodded, – I know the story. The spirits of Lake Windermere decided to play a joke on the residents this year. My heralds warned me, but I hoped they would have the decency to wait until at least the 26th. I’m sorry, Linda…

– Santa, if I had known better, I would have sent you a letter! – Linda threw up her hands. – But Jamie said the post office was closed, and you were delivering gifts and couldn’t help.

– Jamie thinks I don’t exist, – Santa Claus smiled. – Your brother is growing up too quickly, alas. Of course, you should have written to me and just put the letter in the mailbox. Remember what I wrote to your grandmother? I see you all. I would have known you were asking me to raise the fog, and I would have done something.

– And now, Santa? – Linda was all confused. – Can’t we do anything now?

Santa Claus shrugged.

– Actually, your gifts will still arrive on time, I know that. Maybe it’s not a big deal if you spend Christmas with your grandmother, without your parents?

And here Linda exclaimed excitedly:

– No, Santa, it’s not about our gifts! Don’t you understand?! My father and mother will be left without gifts, I have spent some much time embroidering a cushion for my mother, and I made a beautiful pen case for my father! And I embroidered a pincushion for aunt April! And I bought cousin Robert a book about knights! And Jamie made presents, too! And now we can’t give them! – And her helplessness brought her to tears.

Alice pleaded:

– Please, dear Santa, do something! A long time ago you persuaded the store owner to give me to Joyce. Can’t you get a handle on the spirits of Lake Windermere?

Through the tears on her lashes, Linda could see Santa Claus stroking his beard thoughtfully and adjusting his glasses.

– You’re a good girl, Linda, very much like your grandmother. You know, these spirits are strange creatures, they like to complicate things, but they are not without empathy. I won’t promise anything – I still have to deliver gifts – but I’ll try to do something.

Santa Claus reined in, and the reindeer swayed their antlers and began to move. They rose majestically higher and higher up in the air, and as far as Linda and Alice could see, they were slowly receding into the night. The elf girl sat on Linda’s shoulder and touched the tip of her nose with her wand.

– Linda, it’s time to go to bed! Santa Claus can’t bring gifts if you don’t fall asleep.

– Do you think the fog will clear, Alice? – Linda asked.

Alice settled into her usual position and shrugged.

– Linda, dear, there are things that neither people nor dolls can influence. You did everything you could. Now we can only trust and wait.

As she was leaving the living room and was about to close the door, Linda glanced back. Little elves were filling the space under the Christmas tree with magic.

The Russian book is available here and here.

Happy Christmas with Bob Dylan!

A Bob Dylan cover of Do You Hear What I Hear oozes warmth and magic of Christmas season. Listen, enjoy, and be happy! Merry Christmas!

To celebrate Christmas this year, I’m going to have you listen to a Bob Dylan cover of the famous Do You Hear What I Hear? I previously had a post with this song interpreted by Gladys Knight and The Pips. A few years ago I came across Dylan’s version, and I was quite mesmerised. Each time I listen to it I imagine an old Irish guy, with a smoky voice and a guitar, singing this 20th century carol to his neighbours’ children. It oozes the magic in a way different from Knight’s version. Whereas hers borders on gospel, the cover by Bob Dylan is very folkish, and I think this is why I make this “Irish” connection.

I wish us all a very warm, happy, and peaceful Christmas season! Enjoy the Yuletide!

Read about the song.

error: Sorry, no copying !!