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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday due to its uniting nature. After all, there is no political party or religion in the world that is anti-food or anti-gratitude. This year, it was made even sweeter by a visit from a dear old friend. It is amazing how little time and distance matter when you have an authentic connection with someone. Turns out, the language barrier is not such a big deal either, because my wife and my friend have communicated with ease using a very small number of Russian and English words. It is amazing how powerfully energizing a personal presence and a good conversation can be. My friend Leonid Ferents, who happens to be both a very good violinist and a violin maker, brought a violin he made especially for my wife. I happen to like it so much, that I might ask her to let me borrow it for an occasional concert. Here it is:

The holiday season, which I love, brings with it inevitable Nutcrackers. After having performed this ballet 331 times (I have been keeping count), one would think I would be over this piece, but somehow I still look forward to playing it every year. There are moments in the piece, which make me feel like a wide-eyed ten-year old expecting miracles to be a part of our daily existence. These moments usually sneak up on me and have a surprisingly strong effect on my mood for days after the show is over. That said, I do find watered-down versions of Sugarplum Fairy dance with a drum-set being piped through the speakers in every store extremely annoying. Marketing people should take notice, because this a major factor in my holiday shopping… and I am pretty sure I am not alone! And now it is time to put up a Christmas tree before my two-year old niece visits.

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