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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas メリークリスマス 聖誕節快樂 С Рождеством Linksmų Kalėdų

It was almost a white Christmas. There was snow on the ground as late as Friday afternoon and falling snow yesterday evening, but most of it had washed away as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day. While snow would've added a touch of romanticism to our first Noel in Lithuania, after several cartoon-like falls over the past few weeks, as far as I'm concerned the more color to the holiday the better. This weekend has been a quiet one, which is as it should be. We opened our presents this morning and everyone seemed satisfied with what they received. And while the girls relaxed at home, I went for a two hour-plus walk this afternoon through the streets of Old Town (I had wanted to ride my bike, but rain threatened to fall all this day, so I hoofed it instead). Things were actually busier today compared to yesterday, with more people out and about and more businesses open for customers. Just as the Lunar New Year's Eve is more important for families in Taiwan than the first day of the Lunar New Year, Christmas Eve takes precedence over Christmas Day in Lithuania, which explains why it was comparatively quieter yesterday.

While "Fuck 2016" has been a justifiably popular refrain of late (after all, it's been the year of Brexit, Trump, Aleppo and the deaths of people like David Bowie and Prince), we as a family haven't much to complain about. We're now settled down in a city and country that we really like, and all three of us have enjoyed good health, as have our loved ones (knock on wood). May the good fortune continue and be extended to the world as a whole...all of us are going to need all the good luck we can get in the upcoming new year!

My daughter receives a gift from Santa at the embassy Christmas party, held last week at the ambassador's residence

Snow coming down on Saturday night

In our take on a modern-day Japanese Christmas tradition, we dined on takeout from KFC on Christmas Eve (KFC being one of the few restaurants open on Saturday)

Vilnius Cathedral and the Christmas village on Sunday afternoon

Inside the cathedral

Valavičius Chapel, established in the cathedral in the early 17th century

A Shakespeare-themed hotel on Bernardinų gatvė

Literature-themed artworks on the walls of the appropriately-dubbed Literatų gatvė

A tattoo parlor closed today, disappointing those who couldn't wait to spend their Christmas money on getting themselves inked

The abandoned Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Consolation, now serving the needs of those souls in search of a free parking space

Lithuanian National Philharmonic

Basilian Gate

The 17th-century Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, Vilnius' main Russian Orthodox church

Bukowski, a pilgrimage site for Lithuanian barflies

Walking past the Presidential Palace. As you know from our visit a fortnight ago, the Lithuanian flag flying from the rooftop signifies the president is currently somewhere in Vilnius

VCUP (Vilnius Central Department Store) - closed for the day, but still beaming proudly as darkness descends around a quarter after four in the afternoon

Happy holidays!

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