Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror


I hesitated and debated with myself on whether to do this, and finally decided that the Magic Mirror just wouldn’t be the same without a traditional — if belated —¬†New Year post ūüôā

I’ve been thinking: why does the New Year excite us so much — why does it inspire and scare us so?

A poem a friend of mine wrote a few days ago led me to an answer. I think the key to the New Year’s is in the word “new.” A new relationship. A new child. A new house.¬†A new draft. A new story. A new year. Newness means hope. Another chance.

Last year — the old year —¬†was good for me in so many ways, great even. It brought countless moments of happiness and love.¬†It brought new revelations,¬†achievements, new lessons learned. And yet, if I said the year brought me everything I wanted I would be lying.

I didn’t sign that contract I’ve been dreaming about.

But it’s not even that — what was worse — way worse — was that¬†I didn’t finish the story I thought would surely be making the rounds by now.

That was my heaviest disappointment of the year.

But¬†that’s the way it is, isn’t it?

At the start of each year, we are nervous and hopeful. As the ball drops, our hearts lift with desire. We hope that maybe this year we will get it right. This year we will re-invent ourselves.

But what I realize now, is that there is no need (at least for me) to keep trying to be this new person every year. This shiny idea of the perfect me is just that — an idea.

Here is what I am beginning to understand: every year will bring joy –and disappointment.

And the two are interwoven together tightly as the strands of hair in a braid.

My not completing the novel I hoped to finish led me to re-evaluate my revision methods. It pushed me to try new things.

Saying “hello” to 2012, I am going easy on hopes and wishes this time around, while continuing to focus on my goals. The things I can do. Revisions. Completions. Submissions.

I don’t care¬†about a book contract in 2012.

Okay, maybe that’s a lie. I care. But I don’t wish for it. Nope. I¬†am¬†hereby striking it from my list of hopes and wishes for this year. In fact, I am keeping that list very short, and here it goes:

To reach my own goals. Hit my own deadlines.

That’s all I want for this year.

Happy 2012, everyone!

May your joys this year outweigh your disappointments. May you have the strength, committment and wisdom to keep your resolutions, and may those bring you closer to your dreams.


January 6, 2012 Posted by | Personal Mirror, Writing Mirror | , , , , , | 8 Comments

How to celebrate the New Year, Russian-style

Since Soviet Russia wasn’t allowed to officially celebrate Christmas, we had to have some other major holiday. And it had to be big. Huge. BETTER than Christmas. Thus was born the Soviet New Year, honestly THE BEST holiday EVER.

Think Halloween with its costumes and candy. Add to it Christmas with its dressed-up evergreens and loads of presents. Then sprinkle freely with the regular New Year traditions as you know it — the festive partying all night long, the¬† champagne, the¬†countdown, the fireworks. And most importantly, don’t forget the Chinese New Year — a new animal patron watching over every successive year, determining your luck. Finally, toss in Russia’s own deep superstitions.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

And you get a holidaygreat for¬†everyone — from families with young kids, to¬†love-stuck teens, to 20-something singles. You get a holiday¬†that outlasted the Soviet empire itself!¬†¬†¬†

You get the holiday of my childhood — one that I too have trouble growing out of. ūüôā ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†


I think the most addictive part of it isn’t even all the fun — it’s the superstition. The kind Russians have always been famous for — and which only intensified in the Soviet period when religion wasn’t sanctioned.

According to the New Year tradition which had taken such firm hold on me, what you do on New Year’s eve and on the first morning of the new year will determine how you spend the entire¬†year. What you wear and eat, who you spend your time with, it all matters too.¬†While American Christians are shopping around for better outdoor lights, and the Jews hunt for fancier electric Hanukkah menorahs to display in their windows, Russians buy up little animal figures at the stores, to surround themselves with the image of the lucky animal, and check the major newspapers for horoscopes and instructions on how to best celebrate on the New Year’s eve.

What are you doing this New Year’s?

And what are you hoping for?


The rabbit will supposedly (and HOPEFULLY) bring us all a peaceful year and generally a much happier year for the entire world, after the combative exhaustive Tiger of 2010. (Not that it was bad or anything. To me, at least, this passing year had been filled with great highlights. it’s just been a bit DIFFICULT. Which may have been a good thing, for it toughened me up EVEN MORE, and made me work harder than ever.)

According to the Chinese and Russian horoscopes,¬†2011 just might be the year when patience, hard work and good deeds pay off (but bragging, showing off, intolerance and aggression generally do not). It is best to greet this year in the colors of the rabbit — white, gray or light brown. God save you if you decide to have rabbit for dinner though, or wear a rabbit fur hat. (Rabbit won’t like it!)

Whatever you do this New Year’s eve then — make sure you don’t fight — or, I don’t know, do something lame like watch soap operas! Make sure you hug your loved ones when the clock strikes twelve, and if you must be separated from someone you love, at least think of them, or call them.

 Stay happy, and meet this year with joy! Then, at the end, let me know what great fortunes the Rabbit brought you!

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Contemporary History, Politics and Religion, The U.S.S.R. | , , , , | 9 Comments