Christmas is that magical time of year where the world seems to become magical. Granted, some Christmas’ are more memorable then others and some even change our lives forever.
There is often a Christmas season or two that stick out in our minds, they were extra special for one reason or another. Perhaps for it was the year you got that Red Rider BB Gun with a Compass in the Stock and this Thing that Tells Time?
I know that for me, the Christmas that comes to mind most prominently is also the one that changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. It happened 31 years ago and it truly was a pivotal Christmas that would alter and define and even scar my life forever.
The year was 1979 and I was 6 years old, living with my parents a kid sister in Copenhagen Denmark.
We had eaten our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, after which presents were exchanged. Though what redefined my life was still a few hours away.
My mom had gone to bed, after tucking me in, though as soon as I saw that she had gone to her bedroom I snuck out of my bed and down the stairs.
Everyone we had over to celebrate with us had left and only my dad was still stirring, picking up torn wrapping papers and just generally trying to relax after entertaining all evening.
It must have been past 11 O’clock when a knock sounded from the front door. I stayed out of sight, just watching from the kitchen where I knew I couldn’t be seen.
My dad opened the door and standing there was his close “friend” Oleg Pievchev. It was obvious to even this 6 year old that Oleg was drunk and had been crying.
My dad, Boris Korczak, invited him in and after hanging up Oleg’s coat, they both sat down at the living room table. I remember my father asking Oleg what was wrong but Oleg insisted that since this was Christmas eve it was necessary to drink a bottle of Vodka that Oleg brought.
My dad set up two shot glasses and sat down facing Oleg and away from the kitchen where I was hiding. It only took my dad asking Oleg one question for our lives to be forever changed. The question he asked Oleg was, along the lines of, “Oleg, why are you crying and why are you here, what’s going on with you?”
It was at this point that Oleg took a shot of Vodka, as did my dad, and then Oleg started in.
“Boris, you are a dear friend of mine and I love you like a brother and that’s why I’m here tonight.” “We (the KGB) know who you are, we know who you work for and we know what you’ve been doing for the past 7 years.”
My dad didn’t miss a beat and after the two of them took their fourth or fifth shot of Vodka. “Oleg, what are you talking about, what have I been doing for 7 years?” “Oleg, you’re drunk and should go sleep it off.”
Oleg’s eyes filled with tears and he answered my fathers questions frankly. “Boris, we know that you are CIA. We know who your case officer is, we know how long you’ve been spying (on us) for all these years.”
Oleg continued; “Boris, I love you, you are my best friend and that’s why I’m here tonight.”
Another shot of vodka was consumed by the two of them as Oleg continued. “I love you like a brother and I have to tell you that I’m going to kill you. I can’t stand it but those are my orders and the next time I see you I will kill you.”
“Today is Christmas and I will not kill you today but I will have to and it will be soon.”
After Oleg left, my father didn’t appear at all phased, though I knew he must have been in turmoil inside. Everything was now out in the open, Oleg and the KGB knew everything and it was now time to get the hell out of dodge.
Not long after that night, we made our way to the United States. The CIA was of no help and were probably hoping that my dad would be killed in Denmark.
The following years were hell for the entire family, relocating to a new country and a year or two later my father being shot in Giant Food Store in Vienna Virginia.
He was shot while we were standing in the fruit and produce section with me right by his side.
I won’t go on, it would take a book to explain what happened next, why it happened and how it happened.
It wasn’t till the day “Uncle Oleg” visited us on that Christmas Eve that I learned all these things about my dad.
That Christmas in 1979 is the day my childhood ended, though I didn’t know it at the time. There were three kidnapping attempts on me. I was taught to handle and use a handgun and I was trained in what to do in different situations that may pop up out of nowhere.
Perhaps this wasn’t the “Christmas story” that you the reader was expecting to see. It sounds completely other-worldly and almost like the ramblings of a mad man. I wish you were right and I wish I were making this up. Nevertheless read over my bio on this site and read the cited links in this article and you’ll soon find that sometimes truth is much stranger than fiction.
So yeah, the most memorable Christmas for me is the Christmas of 1979 as it was the day that the world turned upside down for me and my whole family.