The Year Is Not Finished For Me Yet

Not only because there are several more hours left, but also, because there are too many things “in flight” now. In course of the past three days I had several new experiences, including driving with the baby on board :), and overall, I am seen this year off not like I planned a couple of days ago.

This been said, I hope that in a week I will be finally able to say good bye to 2020. Until that, I have tons of things to do.

On the bright side, I have more presents! This mask was set to me from Michigan, and I love it!

And just today, I received the sweets from my friend from Ufa, which is not an alien settlement, but the capital of Bashkortostan. Which in turn is not an imaginary country, but a part of Russia, located on the border of Europe and Asia.

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Everything Is Falling Apart Again!

This year can’t finish without more calamities!

On Christmas Eve morning, I felt like the hot water was cooler than it should be and that it took longer for it to get warm. However, since the weather was exceptionally cold, I attributed the water temperature to that fact. By evening, however, I’ve grown a suspicion that something is wrong with the water heater.

My water heater can keep the water warm for a long time, and I am not sure when it actually stopped heating. I thought that I would survive a Christmas Day (nobody would come out anyway), and I could call Allied Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, the water was still warm enough for me to take a quick shower. Then, I called Allied. It was 6 AM, so I didn’t expect anybody to be in, but I wanted to leave a voice message. Following the prompts, I reach to the technician on call only to find out that they are not picking up, and their mailbox is full. When I call at 7-30 AM, the message was that the office is closed for the holidays. They suggested another company for emergency service.

I called and texted them, and there was no answer. I started to look on the internet for alternatives and quickly found one. I called them, and they said that they will come over within two hours.
By that time, the first company replied, saying that they are swamped with work and won’t come on Saturday, but they can come on Monday. I replied: no problem, somebody is coming.

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Soviet Propaganda (Almost Forgotten)

Suddenly, I remembered this episode; I didn’t think about it for years until yesterday, when it suddenly popped up in my mind.

Back when I was a child, not only did we not know anything about Christmas, we didn’t even know how Santa looks like. Grandfather Frost, who was in charge of presents, looked very different from Santa, except for the beard. And even his beard looked different from Santa’s 🙂

So, we didn’t know how Santa looks like, and that’s what once happened.

I must have been in grade school, probably the 5th or the sixth grade. It was a winter break, and I was at the Yubileyniy Palace of Sports watching the New Year show on ice.

In all these shows, the scenario is more or less the same: Grandfather Frost is in danger, or got lost, or lost his granddaughter Snowgirl. And some good guys help him (most often, animals) and bad guys trying to prevent him from finding Snowgirl or take him hostage, or something else.

This time around, a villain was Santa Claus! He didn’t look like Sant at all, but we didn’t know. He was short and thin and wriggling, hunching most of the time. He wore a purple robe, which was too big for him, and a dark purple hat that looked very much like a night hat. He wore sunglasses (because spies wear sunglasses!). He had packs of chewing gum in his pockets, which he was using to bribe the good guys. There was no chewing gum in the Soviet Union, and it was labeled as bourgeois plague, and yet kids loved it, as one can love forbidden fruit.

This Santa Claus was trying to turn people away from Grandfather Frost and accept him as a main figure for the New Year celebration. In the end, he was defeated and sent away.
It was a long (two acts) and a beautiful ice skating show, and it ran twice a day through the whole winter break. The Yubileyniy arena was huge, so I won’t be surprised if most of the city’s grade school students saw this show. I didn’t feel anything wrong about it. I thought it was funny. And it was so along the lines of what we were told back then that I forgot about it entirely.
Now I think: it’s no surprise that so many people in Russia think about the US as their enemy. That concept was imprinted in people’s minds so early that they can’t even remember that.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Time To Give Gifts, And Time To Receive Gifts

Almost all f my parcels, except for one, already reached their destinations, which delights me. I haven’t heard from two people who have received my parcels according to the USPS, but I hope to hear from them soon.

And now finally the packages which were sent to me started to Arrive.
That’s the gift I received from Kentucky.

The vanilla body lotion is heavenly, and the ornament is beautiful. When I realized that my new friend sent me the components to mix, add the liquid components, and bake-it-myself, I had mixed feelings, which might be understandable after 774 cookies :).

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All Is Right

And all of a sudden, the rush is over. I can’t stop smiling since last evening.
I had just two and a half workdays this week – we were dismissed at 1 PM yesterday, and since more than half of the company is on vacation, plus we have a code freeze, I was able to do work at work! That felt great – I was able to close all my tickets for the current sprint, the first time in I do not know how long!

Granted, there is still a lot of work with the book, we have ten days to finish, and there is still a substantial amount of writing. However, since I have so many days off, I am confident we will finish on time.

Yesterday, I stopped at the post office to drop off my cookies. Like with my nail spa and physical therapy, I packed small individual boxes rather than one box or a tray. I chose really pretty cookies for them because shipping for many years, I know first-hand how hard they work and how under-appreciated they are.

Their supervisor was on the shift, and I stopped aside, waited for a customer to complete their transactions, and told her: that’s for you guys, thank you!!! She was so happy I can’t even describe it:).

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About My First Christmas

And for all of us to always remember about our first Christmas – reblogging one more time:)

Hettie's Reflections

Knowing that I was born in January 1963, you might think that my first Christmas was on December 25, 1953. But in fact, my first Christmas happened only in 1996, keep reading to find out why – this is going to be the longest post you ever read in my journal.

Before the October revolution of 1917, Orthodox Christianity was an official religion of the Russian Empire. The Julian Calendar which is two weeks behind the Julian Calendar, was used both in Church and in civic life.

After the revolution, the Church was separated from the state. Several months later, by a decree of the Revolutionary government, the country was switched to the Julian calendar. Christmas was denounced, along with all religious holidays, and Christmas trees were forbidden. That situation lasted until early 1930 were when the government decided to allow some of the fun to come back. Granted, there…

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December 1996. Gray Sanborn School

In December 1996, Vlad and Anna went on their first winter break at Gray Sanborn School. For me, it meant them being in the Children’s World for the whole day, but I believe it was included in their tuition. At least, I do not remember paying more in December.

I didn’t know anything about what they were doing at school. The parent-teacher conferences happened before Thanksgiving, and they started school right after. I could not understand what school assignments meant. It’s difficult to explain: I understood the words, but I didn’t know how the Kindergarten curriculum is organized. It was very different from Russian schools, and Vlad and Anna used to say that they “played” at school, listened to the teacher reading a book. Sometimes they would bring some drawings home.

It was a real shock for me when they brought home a newsletter for the parents from their teacher, Mrs. Kramers, when on the last day of school. The letter said: if your child does not know the alphabet, it’s time to catch up. If your child can’t count to one-hundred, it’s time. What-when-how?! How come I didn’t know?! I did not know that when they connected the numbered dots to make a Santa’s face, they were learning numbers.

I wish I could go back in time and ask their teacher how they were adjusting, how they were learning, how they communicated with other kids. I have three pictures from that winter from school, and I am not sure who made them.

In the last picture, they are sitting together with their friend Chris. Chris was in the same class with them and in the Children’s World. Actually, his family lived in the same building, as wem but we didn’t know. Chris didn’t take a bus to school; I think his mom, Janet, dropped him off, and then his parents picked him up from the Children’s World at a different time.

We learned that they are our neighbors accidentally. It happened when Pam arrived at our apartment at 8 AM one Sunday, realized that we do not have TV service on, and started to call our neighbors to find out what cable company serves our building.

Chris was Vlad’s and Anna’s best friend for the longest time, and Janet was my best friend for the longest time.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

The Most Important News Of The Day

I already shred these news with my friends earlier today, but the news are worth to be broadcasted.

You know that Santa Claus does not live in Alaska, right? And you know where he lives? He lives in Lanpland, which is the most Northern part of Finland. And this morning, the Finnish news agencies broadcasted Santa’s departure from his house in Lapland to deliver gifts to the children all over the world!

You can watch it here, and if you are not in the Christmas spirit yet, you definitely should watch it!

Also, the Ministry of Foreign affairs of Finland announced that although the border is closed, the sleigh drawn by reindeers will be allowed to pass through. So all is good, and Christmas is happening 🙂

Pictures From The Day I Got Married (The First Time)

I married Igor (Igor’s dad) thirty-six years ago, on December 22, 1984. Igor was twenty-two, and I was a month short of being twenty-two. 

The was not too young by then-standards to get married. I’d say most young people would get married around that age, either right before graduating from college or right after. I talked about this situation briefly here

I hope that I will tell the whole story of our relationships at some point, but the short outline looks like this. We started dating in September (I can’t recall the date, though I might find it). Igor proposed to me about six weeks into our relationship, and I said yes. Then we went to register to get married in a complete secret because first, we were afraid of gossips in the university, and second, we knew that his parents wouldn’t be thrilled. We went to register at the local Bureau of Registration of Igor’s district. The usual waiting time was three months, but somehow they told us that we could get married on December 22, which was only six weeks ahead, and we gladly accepted. 

Igor told his parents four weeks before the wedding day, there was a scene, but then things calmed down. Then both of us announced to my mm and all my relatives with whom we lived together, and they were very happy and congratulated us, and all was like it was supposed to be on a happy occasion. 

We arranged our parents were meeting and getting to know each other, and then the only thing we were trying to do was to minimize the attempts of Igor’s parents to have a big celebration. We wanted nothing of it. Okey, it is possible that Igor wanted, but I didn’t, and at that point, he would d what I wanted :). 

His mother used this occasion to order a good suit for him, and I asked my friend’s mother to make a velvet skirt and vest for me. I didn’t want a while dress, anything which I would wear just once. We didn’t have any extra money; we didn’t have money, period, and we didn’t want our parents to give us money. 

For me, it was just the beginning of the relationship; I knew that being in love does not mean you can build a family together, but there was no option to find it out except for getting married. 

The pictures below are the only pictures ai have from our wedding. A standard set; we got an album, and the parents got a set of printed photos, and that was it.

Our witnesses, Igor’s friend Sasha and my friend Lena were the only people except for our immediate relatives who knew that we are getting married, and we asked them to keep the information to themselves. 

On Igor’s side, it’s his mother and his stepfather, and I do not remember why his father was not invited. 

I think, it was the only time when I dated somebody taller than me, and I could wear high hills:)
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