The Best Time of the Year

Holiday season is upon us and I tell you, I couldn’t be happier. This is my absolute favourite time of the year and it’s not because of the presents. It’s not even because of the days off work, although these are certainly very welcome, all three of them. It’s about everything. Here’s what I mean.

Winter Has Come

And I’m loving almost every minute of it. I have a lot to say about winter as opposed to summer but I’ll refrain from making this a 1,000-word post about the beauties and benefits of winter. Let me just say that it’s the bug-free season, snow sparkles, and days are shorter, so my dark mornings are longer.

We had a bad bug season this year. Something developed quite a taste for Slav blood and drove us nuts. We never found out what exactly it was but it wasn’t mosquitoes or fleas. The scars stayed for months, seriously. Complete with the itching. So a bug-free world is a dream come true.

In other news, the other day, Cat had the 127th “best day in her life ever” this year. We had the first big snow for the season and it was the right kind for a change, the kind that crunches under your feet once it settles overnight and the one that stays nice and tights for longer, so it takes more time for it to turn into the inescapable slush. And if it snows again on top of this initial layer, it becomes really sparkly in street lamp light. It’s the Snow Queen’s world.

Now, about the dark. I like the dark of the morning. I’ve said it before more than once but I can always say it again: this is my time of day and I appreciate it being dark. I don’t mind sunrises but I’d rather have them after I’m done with my morning writing, which can’t happen in the summer when the sun pops up at what, half past five? Seven-thirty is so much more appropriate.

It’s Feast Time

As a rule, I don’t eat a lot during the day and it’s not for weight watching purposes but for a much simpler reason: if I have a whole meal for lunch I’ll need a nap in the middle of the day and I hate napping because I wake up drowsy and dull, and annoyed. It’s just not worth all this trouble.

The one time in the year I eat at all times is the winter holidays though I have to admit that, sadly, the older I get, the lower my overeating capacity gets. I think I got a food hangover last New Year’s Eve. Thankfully, there’s still some of that capacity left, enough to do justice to the three-meat roast and the baked potatoes, and the marinated beetroot, and my absolute holiday star, the local New Year’s Eve staple that we call Russian salad and Russians call Olivier salad.

It has potatoes, carrots (both boiled), peas, ham or equivalent, and gherkins, all chopped up and mixed with mayonnaise, a lot of it. I think I make about three kilos of it every year and I’m perfectly capable of surviving on this salad alone for up to a week without feeling bored with it.

I also love the cooking part of holiday season. I love cooking every day but this is holiday cooking, which means more food than usual, more bread baking, and, in the end, leftovers for the whole first week of January when I’m too depressed holiday season is over so I’m not in the mood to cook. It’s perfect.

A Day of Reckoning

My absolutely favourite day in the year, better than all birthdays, is December 31st. I love this feeling that one year is ending and another is beginning, and even though the rational part of me knows the new one will be a lot like the old one in both good and bad ways, I like the illusion of turning a new leaf/starting a new page/insert your preferred metaphor of change.

I love the newness of the new year, the sense of a beginning after an end. I suppose it has something to do with the hope for life after death that’s innate in all humans but this is not the time or place to dwell on this otherwise fascinating topic. I know this newness will wear out by February but on December 31st it’s still round the corner and so fresh and sweet.

I like recapping. Looking back on the 364 days that just swooshed by before I could say “Where are you going?”, taking inventory of what I did and didn’t do, of what I should have done and what I shouldn’t have, is so much fun. Of course, so is resolution-making, which I’m pleased to announce I already did and I will be sharing my resolutions here at a later date. I’m going for super-realistic this time, no lofty goals or dreams in disguise. And I’m sticking to them. I am.

So, there, that’s why this is my absolutely favourite time of the year. Oh, I forgot: I also like working during the holidays. No, I’m serious. I don’t actually work on Christmas Day or December 31st but the rest of the work days are work days. Only, since it’s the holidays, work is slow and nobody really cares about anything other than the holidays anyway, so there is zero pressure and stress. It feels like I’m doing the world a favour by writing news on, say, December 27. It’s an odd feeling and a very satisfying one, I have to admit. Happy winter holidays to everyone!

P.S. The last photo is not Purgatory or an equivalent Life Reckoning HQ. It’s the Black Diamond, the new library in Copenhagen. I thought I’d mention it to avoid confusion.

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