Back to that little holiday I mentioned in the last post…Zul Sareen Bahyer…or зул сарын баяр as we have come to recognize it.
Merry Christmas from Mongolia! And as we are currently sandwiched between the two holidays, шинэ жилиин мэнд хүргэe too. I’ll leave you to figure that one out.
So Christmas in Mongolia. They don’t celebrate it, but they are absolutely fascinated by it. There are Christmas trees throughout the city, and Coca Cola Santas sprinkled here and there too. They refer to them as New Years trees which I think is particularly amusing. They also listen to Christmas music, but again, it’s New Years music. Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is you? New Years music. Awesome.
Anyways, the packages had arrived from home, the Christmas grow-a-tree was in our big pot growing to 600 times its original size (as its packaging said it would), the Christmas lights were strung and the stockings were hung (by the crappy flat screen with care). We were ready! And it turns out so was the Orchlon School.
So Chris had been talking about a Christmas concert at his school that was originally scheduled for Christmas Eve. Well on the 23rd, the concert was rescheduled…to the 23rd. The foreign teachers were instructed that it was required for them to attend (much to their chagrin). I required no such convincing. A Christmas Concert in Mongolia? Is there any question? So yeah, we bundled ourselves up, wandered over to the school (which had a giant Christmas tree out front!), and headed to the show. We walked in the auditorium/cafeteria door to a room full of Mongolians as well as a small, candlelit table of white people in the corner. Our seats? Duh, with the whities in the corner. Those were the best seats too, not because of the giant speakers behind our heads contributing to early hearing loss, but rather because the table was covered with cookies, chocolates, and some weird waffle sandwich things (the filling of which might have been marshmallow?). Really. It was incredible. The students from the school sang and danced for a good hour and a half, all in English, all songs familiar to any school Christmas concert. Well maybe not any school Christmas concert. At one point Snoop Dogg let out a few f-bombs and a lot of bitches…I don’t think you would hear that at a Christmas concert at home. But anyways, it was wonderful and an incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift from Chris’s school to the foreign teachers (who at the end of the concert felt bad about complaining about their required attendance).
Christmas Eve I refused to work, as any good Kilpatrick would. Instead I met up with a friend for coffee, then Chris joined us for a beer and a burger (my first burger since arriving in UB…it wasn’t bad!), then another friend joined us for another beer, and then in carrying on good old family tradition, many others joined us and many more beers were drank. It was nice. Don’t get me wrong, it was no Mary Sue Christmas Eve, but as far as Christmas Eve goes in Mongolia, we had a fine celebration for ourselves and a lovely Christmas morning hangover to go with it.
Christmas morning marked the beginning of Bloody Merry Christmas. In a land of such quantities of vodka, you would think bloody marys would be a popular drink. They aren’t, but Chris is hoping to change that, one travel mug at a time:
Mmm…vodka before noon. What you can’t see is the collection of pickles and olives in the mug too. Grandma always said that if you’re going to drink, you need some food in your stomach too, and you can’t disobey Grandma.
Here’s one of Chris and Vincent, our Dutch VSO friend, enjoying a smaller version of the same beverage:
Anyways, following presents and some bloody marys, we made our way over to our friend’s apartment to meet up with the rest of the group for a big Christmas celebration.
Here’s Becky…she made the pumpkin soup (and it was delicious):
She also murdered the pumpkin.
And here’s Alex. He spent more money on bread and cheese than we spent on the turkey. I chalk that up as an excellent decision. Add wine to the equation and you’re really onto something.
And Jon, he’s sleeping before dinner. That’s a new tactic to combat the post-turkey dinner nap.
And wonderful Jo, who stuffed, cooked and carved the turkey:
And here’s the whole group of us, including the two Dutchies (Vincent and Dymphy) and the lone Aussie (Merryn) I didn’t have single photos of.
Following dinner is where things went downhill (or became really funny, depending on how you look at it). We had our own little Yankee Swap gift exchange. I got the best gift of all. Unfortunately the photos do not do my nose justice, as the blinking light does not show up.
Then the British folks fed us Christmas Pudding, which is really just a clever way to eat booze for dessert. So far as I could tell, it’s dried fruit soaked in wine and then covered with whipped cream that has been mixed with brandy to the point that you’re eating about a 4:1 ratio of brandy to whipped cream. It was boozy. It was also good.
And at long last, we assumed our “we’re stuffed” positions on the couch and spent the rest of the night sharing horrid stories and laughing until we cried.
All in all, Christmas was a great day. Lots of delicious food and wine, good company and hours upon hours of laughter. So far as Christmases away from home go, I’m not sure that this one can be beat. It wasn’t home, but it was pretty great nonetheless. We couldn’t have asked for much more.
Anyways, our Christmas festivities had not yet come to an end, as Sunday evening we had tickets to attend the Nutcracker. Really. The Nutcracker. In Mongolia. It was great. Boring as ballets usually are, but also entertaining and ridiculously novel to see Mongolians ballerina-ing their way around the stage wearing blonde wigs (because all white people have blonde hair). And that was that, a very Chinggis Christmas in Mongolia.
Onward to New Years we go!