silent night (except when the kids are running around with Shrek masks)
My first Christmas of the season is over (Ukrainian-style on December 25th), with two more (American-style with Jason when he gets here and Ukrainian-style on January 7th) left to go. Yesterday started out as a rough day at school, where I thought I was supposed to be planning fun-filled Christmas lessons and instead was proctoring tests, plus was told that I had made "a big mistake" this semester because I don't have my students copy down texts from their textbooks into their notebooks and call them "monologue speeches". [*bang head here*] My Christmas presents from my parents, sent mid-November, are still somewhere between Lakeview and Balaklia, and it was turning into my worst Christmas ever, because no one seemed to comprehend that this was an important holiday for me (because most Ukrainians consider New Year's as the big winter holiday, and those who celebrate Christmas mostly do so on January 7th).
But then in the evening, I went to the K's church for their Christmas night service, and it was what I needed. We sang "Joy to the World" and "Silent Night" in Russian, (plus a lot of songs I'd never heard before), the little kids all recited poems, I sang "Silent Night" in English, and all the little kids came up front at the end and were given bags of candy. Tanya, one of the girls from the youth group, had a box of chocolates, so all of us youth sat around after church and ate them (and were tickled pink when we realized that the box had two layers!).
Afterwards, I went to the K's house along with them and their cousins. They had a Christmas tree with lights on it, and 10 of the 11 kids ran around whooping and hollering, only stopping occasionally to stare at the tree. Natasha, the oldest girl (9th form) and I had a good chat; she went to my school last year but now goes to the lyceum in town, so I don't get to see her very much these days (I haven't been going to the K's church on Sunday nights for a few months because I don't want to walk all the way there after dark). We had supper, and I now can say that I have tried one more traditional Ukrainian dish: kholodets (Tif, I saw that shudder!). Kholodets is...um...cold jellied animal feet (pig? rabbit? don't know). Everyone there loved it, so I tried a little. I think you have to be born there to truly appreciate it.
Today I got to school and found out that the schedule was changed around, and Nelya told me I didn't have to teach because I had errands to go do before I leave for Kharkiv. I attempted to explain that it wasn't necessary, but then decided just to consider it an extra Christmas gift.
I hope all of you back home had a wonderful Christmas...I didn't think I would, but I did. And it snowed just a little last night!