Last year, when we were in the last throes of finishing off our house, I made a vow that on the next Christmas I would go into "pretty homemaker" mode.  I promised myself that I would have a triangle of advent candlesticks in every window, and that the apple tree in the back would be a mass of twinkling fairy lights.  I was going to have a big Christmas tree in Riga and another one in the country.  Oh, and choirs of angels singing all December, and a permanent freshly baked gingerbread aroma wafting from the kitchen.  So as Christmas  approached this year, and I watched November swallowed up by work trips, and made plans for exhibition openings, I realized that my American dream home Christmas special was going to have to be trimmed - and I don't mean the tinsel and baubles kind of trimming...

At any rate, we ended up getting a couple of triangle advent candlesticks (ok, so they are faux candlesticks these days with electric bulbs).  They are the most wonderful part of solidarity in Riga at this time of year.  The darkness is so all-pervading - I swear this morning daylight only fully appeared around 9am, and at 4pm it was already dusk.  So after dusk (and many people just leave them on all day) - many, many shops and houses and apartments switch on their golden sparkly advent candlesticks in the window.  Gives a bit of warm glow both inside the house and out.  Driving along the road in the almost permanent darkness, the little lights in everyone's windows lifts your mood.  Or at least they lift MY mood.

The apple tree lights seemed like way too much logistical effort for our work-addled brains, and as for the big Christmas tree - I settled for a smallish fir tree, in a pot.  I bought it with the boys at the local craft markets last Saturday, and rashly (and proudly) told the man selling them that I would carry it home by myself.  He offered to take it in his truck.  "Oh no!" I scoffed.  "I've carried children around for the last 9 years!  I'm strong as an ox!" and proceeded to have my arms almost drop off over staggering home 5 blocks through the sleet.  Anyhow, on getting it home, I realised that our city abode has no Christmas decorations to put on the tree.  And this, dear reader, is where this whole waffling post was going.  To my brush with the magical disappearing antique shop (cue Harry Potter music).

By chance, I stumbled into the magical disappearing antique shop a few roads up from our place when walking to kindergarten one day.  A brand new shop, never knew it was there, I ducked in and snooped around, and spied the big bowl of old Soviet glass Christmas ornaments for a laughable price per piece, noted them, and went on my merry way.  Well last Saturday, after realizing that we had no Christmas ornaments in the house, I made a beeline back to the antique store....   and it was gone.  I'm not saying it had closed up and moved away - it had completely disappeared.  I couldn't even find the building where it had been.  There was the photo salon, and the fruiterer, and the hairdressers, but the antique shop - in fact the whole building - had vanished.  Freaky.  In the following days I walked or drove up the street a few times, wondering if the shop had all been a part of my overactive imagination.  I could never find it, nor any sign on any of the buildings heralding an antique store.  Then, today, coming back from the tram stop with Tiss, there appeared a quaint, squat little wooden house with shutters and lit windows - the antique store was back!  Without further ado we crashed in there, made straight for the bowl of ornaments - which was, amazingly, still full of glass baubles, and picked out the best of the bunch.  Totally wondrous. The bearded shopkeeper, who looked like a friendly Hobbit in a flannel shirt, smiled knowingly when I told him I had lost his store, and silently wrapped the ornaments in scraps of old Soviet newspaper.

So now they are hanging on our tree.  Still need to find a star for the top.  I've got to say - I love those ornaments.  The pics don't do them justice - many of them are clear glass, with shiny colour painted on the back, so that in real life the baubles have real depth and mystery when you look at them.  Mind you, I know that certain readers will find the ornaments shabby, or too much reminiscent of their own Soviet Christmases.  But for me, they are just perfect.  Part of the sparkly lit up Christmas miracle...

2 Responses so far.

  1. So do you think he does just pop up now and again in a different building? LOVE those dekkers by the way. We have a string of lights that are a faux version of those and I love them. Cannot believe you lugged a tree 5 blocks, next time take a sleigh.We are so hopeless we haven't even put up the tree yet. Will be in Caloundra on Xmas day so enthusiasm for wrangling giant oversized plastic needly thing is low.Hoping to just get by with a dead stick in a pot. melx

  2. Fifee says:

    I really got into xmas this year too with our new house etc. I decorated the front and back verandahs in red and gold with tinsel and giant bells and sparkly bows, and put up stars and baubles on the walls and from the cooling vents in the ceiling, and we finally found the base of our optic fibre xmas tree this year and put it all together - it was wondrous. Only took them all down today as was away camping on Boxing day and didn't get around to it after returning and unpacking! Ah, enjoy - but what do the triangular advent lights look like? Post a pic of some in a window please...

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