I wake early from uneasy dreams. Head to the kitchen and make coffee. The digital thermometer shows the night had a low of -28c. Outside in the gloom of morning the snowflakes fall silently to earth. In the next room my family is still sleeping soundly.
I sit at the crooked ancient table, switch on the lamp and try to lazily decipher the local newspaper. My coffee tastes strange, even though the brand is the same as I buy in England.
A noise from the street, cars are revving their engines. I trundle onto the balcony, opening the double doors to the frozen air. A monochrome land lies barren. The cold shakes my body. The apartment yard is lined with snow covered cars and a grimy road. Dirty snow is stacked high in bundles at the edges of the yard. The playground swings black against the whiteness.
The gloom is always eerie in Russia, in the wintertime doubly so. I dream of sun and beaches and brightness. Today we will go shopping for presents again, stacking them tightly under the yolka. We will walk in the central square and see the New Year attractions made of ice, then stop in a cafe for tea and a cake.
A stirring from the next room. Family awakes. I smile wryly to myself at the absurdity of living in this wilderness. Spending Christmas in a foreign country is always a little peculiar but I love it. I don’t do usual.
I imagine how next Christmas could well be spent in another land and dream of the possibilities. The future doesn’t just happen, we make it and choose our own destiny.