That time, many years ago, the winter also was like this. It was in another city and another life. However, the city was the same, but small, two-storey. And life was one, only then it was called in a different way – Childhood. And it was the New Year’s Holiday. And the snow was falling.

For some reason, in childhood, it always snowed on the New Year’s Eve. Or had it seemed so?

And there was a Christmas tree that my father brought. As soon as he, carefully holding it and smiling, solemnly carried it into the room, everything around had immediately changed. Together with the Christmas tree, a foretaste that something bright, joyful and unusually beautiful are ahead came into your home and your still short-lived life.

The tree was natural, from a real forest, with real green needles. They were slightly prickly, but they were not pricked painfully, like a hedgehog, and it was possible to stroke it.

If you break the needles between the fingers, they evolved as yet unknown to you fabulous smell of distant mountains, forests and seas.

The tree smelled of celebration and magic. The Christmas tree stood on the balcony for several days, looking out of the windows, patiently waiting for her to be brought into home and be decorated.

It was the first Christmas tree in your life.

And there was a night, there were guests, there was a holiday. The aroma of tangerines, mixed with the resinous smell of needles, floated across the hotly heated room, and this made me feel relaxed. Sparklers crackled and sparked, and the floor was strewn with multicolored round confetti.

Sweet, dear voices sounded. I heard the laughter of my friends. An old radio played a cheerful music. Champagne glasses and our children’s glasses with lemonade jingled.

Standing in the center of all that splendor, full of self-esteem, was a beautiful Christmas tree that had transformed and changed the whole world. Its top was decorated with a glass star. Fragile balls, walnuts wrapped in silver foil and painted cardboard fish, a boat with a smoking pipe and a funny puppy hung on its branches.

The decor of a slender Christmas tree was complemented by delicate snowflakes carved by mother from white paper. Below, under the Christmas tree, like at the banner of a regiment, the pink-cheeked Santa Claus made of cotton with his constant girlfriend, the Snow Maiden of the same material were on the New Year’s guard. And between them was a gift bought for you for a rather poor Santa Claus salary – a canvas bag with a handful of cookies, sweets and a couple of apples.

And it seemed that there would never be in your life a more expensive gift and more beautiful Christmas tree.

And there was a day, filled with memories of the past sparkling night, when a glass ball fell on the floor with a ringing and splattered around with splashes of fragments. And there was a post-holiday silence and a slight sadness that the fairy tale ended so quickly.

A few days later, simple Christmas toys are put back into the box, and the old tree that has served its time goes to the yard, replenishing the ranks of other trees lonely lined up in garbage cans.

And then, for the first time, a nagging sense of parting creeps into your little childish heart. And you want to hug this already defenseless, stripped tree that recently gave you so much joy, and take it back home like homeless kittens and puppies so that the holiday does not end.

But you are comforted by the fact that very little time will pass, only a year, and the house will again be filled with the smell of needles. However, you would still feel sadness when, after a month or two, you accidentally find several red needles in the crevices of the floor.

Then there will be winter-preadolescence, winter-youth, winter-maturity… Time is running quietly. As we get older we part with illusions, but no matter how old we are, the New Year’s Holiday will remain a bright memory of childhood for each of us. That happy time when parents were young, when the circle of friends was wider, when winters were snowy, and when it was so easy to believe in miracles.

Just like in childhood, we still believe in miracles and wait for them on the New Year’s Eve.

The world is changing, we are changing, Christmas trees are changing. Forest Majesties are being replaced by their synthetic clones. They do not smell like needles. But this is not so important. The main thing is to have a holiday.

Each holiday has a spirit of overspending. After all, it is a holiday. But only on the New Year’s Eve we are overwhelmed by the excitement of unbridled generosity and careless squandering when you want to buy more gifts to please your family and friends.

Once you were looking forward to winter gifts from Santa Claus. Now you become Santa Claus who cannot be a miser.

There is an eternal mystery in the New Year’s Holiday. What kind of? Is it worth guessing? Let it remain a secret, because otherwise the feeling of a miracle will disappear.

…And again there was a bright, sparkling New Year’s Night. There was a hospitable house. There was a table and there were dear people, with whom you have been tied with fate over many years.

Candles burned and tangerines smelled. And it was snowing. The snow began to fall before dawn, breaking through the depths of a cloud-draped sky.

Early in the morning, admiring the great mystery of the snowfall, breathing in the fresh frosty air, you were coming home. And like in childhood, it seemed to you that somewhere above, high in the frosty heavens, thousands of lace workshops were operated non-stop, and little snowmen tirelessly carve openwork snowflakes from the snow sheet with ice scissors, similar to those that your mother used to decorate your first Christmas tree.

You walked along the snow, untouched by anyone, and you were again overfilled with a sense of inextricable connection to this life, to the people with whom you are destined to live on this earth.

And you made yourself a promise to become even kinder, more tolerant and just. And you believed that you will be able to start life again from the beginning from this day, from this minute, to start it from scratch as white as this snowy field.

And all the magic was just that it was snowing…

Vladimir ZAREMBO