Vintage Soviet New Year cards

Scanned and provided to the general public by the lovely Marya Koshkina here and here. There were no official celebrations of Christmas in the USSR, of course. All of that energy was shifted to celebrating the New Year.

This has to be one of my favourites:

Because I was born in 1984, I was able to experience something of what this card portrays. And by that I mean that I got to watch other people drink Soviet Champagne.

Monday music felt like Christmas time

two thousand miles is very far through the snow...
two thousand miles is very far through the snow

2000 Miles – The Pretenders
Sidekick – Lisa Mitchell
Life in a Northern Town – Dream Academy
Jackson – Hem
I Gaer – Sigur Rós
S utra shël sneg – Akvarium
My Girls – Animal Collective
Lonesome Swan – Glasvegas
My Sister – Leatherbag
Twice – Little Dragon

The Orthodox Church around here doesn’t celebrate Christmas until January 7th, but whatever, there’s not reason to not be internationalist. Here’s one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time:

And, of course, here’s the same song I listen to every Christmas, this time done by Coldplay, and not badly too (everyone hates Coldplay, but I couldn’t give a shit):

I remember being reminded of this song when I walked into a Donna Karan boutique in Dubai. It played as I browsed cashmere dresses I couldn’t afford. It was warm outside, I was wearing sparkling flats, almost as good as diamonds in the snow, but not quite. Not quite.

I’m not getting “festive” for the “season”

I see no point.

This isn’t some sort of passive-aggressive admonition. I’m not calling on the rest of you to stop gluing tinsel to your car’s radio antenna, or to cancel the Bukovel skiing-and-pills-and-champagne plans, or whatever. I’m not going to lecture anyone about the economy. I don’t care if wreaths are tacky. I like Christmas. I like New Year’s. I like holidays in general and would like to be able to enjoy them, or, at the very least, not cringe through them like an awkward teenager with a permanent leg-cramp.


I have no idea where I’ll even be for the holidays, and wherever it is that I do wind up, whether it be here, there or in that aforementioned gas station bathroom with Glenn Beck and the Wild Irish Rose, I know I’m not going to be a pleasant person for most of it. This isn’t about setting myself up for failure. This is stating scientific fact. Shiny things, inspiring music and happy people getting together to enjoy each other’s company irritate my brain right now. For as long as my brain is listening to Swedish punk-rock and consuming post-Apocalyptic literature, it lights up and functions. Shiny things, and inspiring music and happy people merely serve to remind the brain of its present deficiencies. They are destabilizers.

Of course, neurochemistry is only part of the problem. I’ve been making difficult choices in recent months. These are not the kind of choices which you can equivocally call good or bad. They weigh on me, though. They weigh on me every single time I open my laptop and start writing.

Now, I don’t want to talk about how I’m a tortured artist.

OK, I do want to talk about how I’m a tortured artist. I want to talk about how I’m a tortured everything. I want to talk about how after losing weight, I went out and bought a pair of smaller jeans – and how that pair doesn’t fit anymore. I want to talk about how the idea of performing happiness somehow seems worse than the actual lack of happiness right now.

Ghosts stole MY Christmas. Also, geekgasm!
Ghosts stole my Christmas. And gave me a geekgasm.

The odd thing is, it’s not as if it’s especially hard to get by. I have fantastic friends. I’m up to my gills in work, work that I happen to enjoy, which is pretty rare. I’m not bored, or dead, or stone-cold. I feel things. I experience waves of longing that threaten to knock me off my high heels. My emotional apparatus is not shattered. I smile a little when a phone pulsates with a text message that means nothing and everything at once. I light candles in churches. I cry when the occasion calls for it – or I laugh, or scream with incoherent rage. I am able to grin stupidly at dogs and children, and write long e-mails to people halfway across the world.

But maybe that’s the real problem with Christmas. Christmas amplifies everything, and I am already amplified. I’m burning at such unbelievably high wattage, that the circuits overload. I don’t need pretty Christmas lights when everything inside of me is already bursting with light, threatening to melt my neural pathways, making me feel like I’m falling into a star. I can’t wall myself off from most things, but Christmas in particular thins my skin down to almost nothing. Remember when “war on Christmas” was still a new catchphrase? Well how about Christmas’ war on ironic detachment? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

People on ONTD are making fun of “Happy Birthday Guadalupe” by the Killers, but I can’t stop playing it. I think I may have found my wistful holiday anthem:

So when I say that I’m not getting “festive,” I think I might be lying. It’s a different take on “festive.” It’s not glittery, unless you count impassive stars on cold nights, and headlights in a distant street. It may not look like festive from a distance. But it is what it is.

Put your feet up, baby, it’s Christmas-time.