Friends, I began writing this year’s episode in March, just one week after Putin invaded Ukraine. After composing a few stanzas, I suspended the project. Given Russia’s nostalgia for its former glories, obsession with NATO, and hatred for the independent Ukrainian spirit, I anticipated that the war would drag on. And thus it has. But I finished the episode today, Saturday, December 3rd — even though it’s impossible to predict what will happen between now and Christmas Eve. As with…..