It's early December and holiday decorations are at a minimum in Starobilsk. I almost forget Christmas is coming.
Maybe that's because the orthodox holiday isn't celebrated until January 7, not December 25. Nor is Christmas the huge commercial holiday we know and love in the States. Well some of us don't always love the over-commercialization (I've been known to complain about it myself), but I love it THIS year. I'm away in Ukraine with the Peace Corps, and I'm missing the glitz and neon colors and overblown displays.
Compared to the lavish decorations at home, which go up in our malls and on our streets on Thanksgiving (earlier sometimes), there's hardly a sign of the season in this part of Ukraine. Maybe it's in the big cities, but not here.
I doubt I'll see a light display like the one on Tampa Bay in downtown St. Petersburg. My whole neighborhood is aglow at this time of year. I will miss the parade of boats, too, all decked out in their holiday finery. Such a sight to behold! Bright lights strung along masts and sails reflected on the water in a mirror image--real watercolors!
The holiday season is unfolding a bit differently here is all, I remind myself. It's interesting. The signs of the season are beginning to appear, but slowly. They are in pastel, not neon. They don't shout at you, they whisper.
Today I watched a lone babushka setting up a stall of Christmas tree decorations, bells, and ribbons. She dusted each one lovingly as she put it on a table.
In front of the shop where I buy coffee, milk and daily basics, at the corner of Karl Marx near Panfelova, I saw a few trees up for sale, the kind of trees Charlie Brown favored. It was snowing, and the trees gathered the white flakes as if decorating themselves. It was a muted canvas, not a Macy's window display. Maybe that comes in January, with the new year.
Meanwhile, I'll play some old Christmas music and enjoy the new experience. The holiday spirit comes in all shapes and sizes, in different ways, but it's everywhere. Now if only it could bring peace to every corner of the world, that would be the greatest blessing of all.