Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Christmas/New Year's abaldyet

There were quite a few interesting things that happened this holiday season. First of all, let me say that I was relieved to escape from the holiday commercialistic fever epidemic that grips (that's a pun for me - "flu" in Russian is "grippe" haha :-/) -- that grips everyone during the Christmas day "countdown." Thousands of miles away from American influence, I still felt that quiet turning of the stomach and anxious spirit that reminds one, "Oh my gosh! It's 3 days to go and I still haven't bought little Bobby anything!" But I got all my shopping done.

While I'm speaking of gifts, I'm going to say what I got. I got a wonderful care package from home including: sesame sticks, Baby Ruths, box Spanish Rice and Beans, some other things I can't remember; from my sister I got a matching set of Liz Claiborne hat, scarf, and gloves which I loved and wore everyday for 4 days until I lost one of the gloves, and I was very sad... - and also the fourth book of George R.R. Martin's thrilling fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire. I read it through in 3 days; from my eldest sister I got some pictures yet to come, and some stuff that I assume was in the third package that never arrived. :-( (I realize I am emoticoning excessively, sorry to those who care about such things...); from Granny Sue I got some home-made peanut brittle. I shared it with the other volunteers on Christmas. It was very good. From my girlfriend, Inessa, I got a set of banya elements that help survive the self-immolating steam and heat while you're beating yourself with leaves. They work great; I've already tried them out, and I was able to stay in the banya for an extra 7-8 minutes. From Nina and Kolya I got a photo album and a new beer that I hadn't tried (Nina noticed that I prefer beer to vodka.) I got a lot of beer from the other volunteers, and a cool Kazakhstan sweatshirt.

On Christmas weekend, the Pushkin Library had a Christmas party for their littlest readers who study English in school. The librarians asked me to be Santa Claus. After running away and dodging them successfully for a while, I finally had to check my email, and I acquiesced. It was a fun little party. The kids danced for me and I gave them little presents. I danced with them around the Christmas tree, and at that moment felt very druidic and pagan in my robe and beard as if reenacting an ancient rite. Another volunteer, Frieda, was my hot snowy granddaughter, Snegurochka, except she didn't have a costume, so the librarians improvised and said she was a "modern, American snegurochka," and all was explained. The children completely understood. Thank God for childish imagination. It was fun, but that beard was itchy.

New Year's Eve I spent with Nina and Kolya, and Nina's sister, Tanya, and brother-in-law, Vitya. The men were wasted throughout most of New Year's Eve, all of New Year's Day, all of the Day after that, and then Vitya left, and Kolya persevered alone throughout half of the next day, when Nina told him it was time to stop drinking. He was always amiable, though, I must say. I took the opportunity to record him dancing. That made my night. It was fun and I was stuffed. We also blew off some fireworks. They are really cheap here, so I spent a lot of my allowance on them, knowing I may never have another opportunity.

Well that's the update, and I'm tired of writing, so I'm signing off. Happy holidays and I love you all.


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