It happened so that my last post of the year was rather melancholic. I planned to end the year on a more cheerful note, but haven't had a chance to post anything. After the most stressful trip to Italy (see my post How Frozen saved my sanity at Christmas time), our year ended on a minor key.
The new year's eve at home was quiet and peaceful (oh, how I appreciate those words). We were all in bed at the usual time, I snuggled in warm woolen blankets with my ipad, reading until I heard the fireworks singing "whoosh-boom-boom" at midnight. I closed my eyes and sent a request to the Universe or whichever deity is listening, asking for a less stressful year. I switched off my ipad and started thinking of all the new year's eves I spent with my family in Russia.
It used to be such a huge celebration, with the table laden with food, neighbours and friends visiting through the night until the early hours. The last new year's eve we spent in Russia I was already married. It must have been 1999 or was it 1998? My husband, my late Dad and I went to the main square to watch the fireworks. It was cold, snowy and beautiful. People were cheerful and kept wishing each other a happy new year. I'm sure there were plenty of inebriated folks around, and not everything was wonderful, but memory is a funny thing. You look back and the past is painted bright and beautiful. I was young and full of hope, so things did look much more exciting then.
Looking through the battered photo album (I do need to get a better one for my old photos), I picked up a family snap taken at the new year's eve in 1979.
That makes me almost 11 years old, my cute little brother is not yet 8. Mum is young and pretty, Dad is as gorgeous as always.
My bro is dressed up as a cowboy, and I have a Japanese outfit - my Mum's silk bathrobe turned into a kimono, with a big handpainted silk sash. I have a peacock's feather in my bun (very Japanese. Not!). Mum has painted my eyes and lips, and I am ecstatic.
By the looks of it, one happy family. Yet there was a lot of tension between my parents. It was not an easy relationship, as they were very different but strong personalities. Dad was very popular, forever invited to parties, and he was the soul of the party. Mum's choice was to stay at home, she has always preferred reading (and still does) to any party, and is a complete teetotal (which in Russia is not looked very favourably, especially at the parties).
Whatever their differences, I knew my brother and I have been much loved. There are so many disfunctional families, where children sadly never know what love is, and I am so lucky to have had a family like mine, with all its difficulties and strong opinions, passions and struggles. I truly am lucky.
I look at my parents's smiling faces in this old black and white photo, and see the family resemblance. My older son Sasha sometimes has the same blinding smile, just like my Dad. I am much older now than my Mum in this photo, and I never had the same high cheekbones of the Russian steppes, but with age I am getting to look like my Mum more and more.
But in this photo, we are all together, young and happy, and the future is bright.
“...A mirror can trick you day by day into thinking you remain looking and existing in one way forever. But a photograph presents you with the truth: it freezes you eternally, existing as a reminder that you can never, ever go back to any one moment again- that you are always changing, hour by hour, cell by cell, in tiny fragments that build skyscrapers overnight.” (Kells Adeline Sapp)