Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a true russian new year's eve

It's Dec. 31, and there is a blizzard outside my window. Providence has about 6 inches so far, in just three hours. The snow is gorgeous, and transports me to my childhood winters and New Year's Eves in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Since there were no religious holidays under the Soviet regime, I grew up celebrating New Year's Eve as Christmas is celebrated in the U.S. We had a New Year's tree, and Santa Claus came, but he was called Grandpa Frost. He also drove a sleigh, but Rudolph wasn't at the lead. Everyone got one present from Grandpa Frost. And it was incredibly special and magical. I usually got a yellow teddy bear. This is because I lost my yellow teddy bear every year. How did Grandpa Frost know that I lost mine again?

A few days before New Year's, my family gathered at my grandmother's house. She was born on December 24th, and it was a joint celebration of her birthday and the upcoming New Year. Here she is under the New Year's tree, a Russian princess.
And here is her legendary table setting for twenty two guests:
Since my family is technically Jewish, we have not had a tree since arriving in the U.S. I miss its piny aroma permeating the rooms, though I don't miss the dried up needles that ended up in everything for months long after the holidays.

Outside my window the view gets whiter and whiter. Happy New Year, grandma.