The Christmas time has begun in earnest. As one can't rely on weather in this regard - one day it snows, the next it rains, and it's all very confusing - one has to do something else to start feeling Christmassy. Our church planting group organised a Christmas party to underprivileged families yesterday where we distributed 35 shoe box presents to children, and that's when it began to feel a lot like Christmas. We collected the presents in our conference office so for the past week my workplace has looked like a Santa's workshop. I've done a fair share of wrapping and glueing and adding candies (also eating some) and writing name tags these days. I've really enjoyed the whole process. And even now there's about 15 presents left as the children with special needs will have their Christmas party this coming Saturday. After Saturday we're done with this project. Until the next year.

The Christmas party was sweet. The city district elder was there and greeted everyone, there were candies and ginger bread and Christmas songs and games and Santa, the whole shebang. Seeing the children being so excited about the gifts made the whole effort so worth it.

I don't care too much about Christmas presents - neither the ones I make nor the ones I receive - but about these presents I cared a lot, a lot. There's something special about charity.

We have the sweetest team!

I was terribly disappointed last week when I got ill and had to miss a good concert, having to give the ticket to my auntie, teary eyed. So I decided to take revenge this week and I happened to stumble upon an ad for a concert by American/Armenian pianist Sergei Babayan. I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it but I rushed like a madman through the city last night after the Christmas party and I made it to the concert hall. It must have been the most magical piano concert I've ever been to - he played in almost complete darkness but his genius and sensitivity were as plain as in broad daylight. I understood why some have called Babayan a genius. I got breathing problems when he played Chopin - I simply forgot to breathe. And my hands shook for a long while after the concert.

Music is divine.

I just checked his schedule, he'll be playing Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concert in Milan in February. Oh goodness, I wish I wish I wish...

As to books, I am, slowly but surely, approaching the milestone of 40 books. I set this goal in the beginning of this year and despite my eye surgery taking a good chunk of time out of my reading time - almost a month - I'm now in the middle of book no 38. It's on the legendary war correspondent Vasily Grossman and his journey with the Red Army throughout the Second World War. It's called A Writer at War. It's a tough reading, the descriptions of battles and casualties and atrocities from both the Soviet as well as from the Nazi's side are at times almost too much to take in. But I am a human being and I need to know about these things, I need to remember. But I promise I take on a book more cheerful once this one is over. I should read Astrid Lindgren.

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