Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Merry Ukrainian Christmas Eve

Waiting. It seems like that's all we do.

Ruslan has been a bit depressed/scared and has refused to leave the house now for two days. We talked to him last night at dinner and after 20 minutes of trying to figure out what he was complaining about, it turns out that he really misses his friends. I immediately started to cry for him because I tried to think about how hard it would be to leave friends (who are more like family) at the age of twelve. Two seconds later, Voss started to cry too.

So, Zenon and Ruslan went to the orphanage today to see if we could take a few kids bowling. The director said no, made Zenon do a couple shots of cognac and sent them on their way. We still went bowling. I took Marty's advice and started my career as a bowling instructor. Zenon was my first student. I was knocking them down every time so I decided to let Zen in on my secret moves. I think he ended up winning the second round of bowling. Two Americans walked in during our game. What are they doing here!? I did like the rest of the Ukrainians and just stared at them.

When you are really bored and can't understand what anyone is saying, you tend to be more aware of what is going on around you. Lately, I have been noticing lines forming outside and inside places and have no idea what types of businesses they are. You know, with the different alphabet here and the fact that the Pimsler's "Learn Russin in 12 Easy Lessons" doesn't cover the alphabet - we can't even try to figure it out. So, I started to just line up with people or follow the crowd to see what kind of trouble I could get us into. Why not? We have NOTHING else to do.

A few days ago, we were walking around town and we noticed a few herds of families rushing into a building (everyone's always in a rush). I decided that I would follow. It turns out it was a theatre and there was some kind of Christmas show for little kids starting at some point. So me and Voss decided to go in and check it out. Most of the kids were dressed up in costumes. It was mostly girls, so there were MANY princesses. I figured it was the Nutcracker or something and they all like dress up like princesses. I did notice a stray bumble bee and Darth Vader. I didn't pay much attention. We went in and sat down wondering what we were in for and when it was going to start. Voss was scared that something was going jump out at him and was sitting veerrrrry close to me. I couldn't even comfort him since I had no idea what was going to happen.

As soon as the curtain opened, I immediately noticed that there was something off. It started with a witch and a bunch of animals talking and singing. After a few songs, I realized that the whole thing was lip synced...even the regular talking (that was the part that was making it "off"). The costumes and dancing were the worst things I had ever seen. The story appeared to be about some animals who were looking for their winter coats. I think the witch took them and the snow fairy helped them get their coats back. We kept waiting for Santa to show up since the billboard had a picture of Santa on it. No Santa. All of a sudden, the snow fairy and the animals were all waving good bye. Everyone got up within a split second and started rushing for the door (again rushing).

Voss and I managed to squeeze ourselves into the Christmas mosh pit to get out of the main theatre to let the crowd lead us outside. The crowd took a sharp right...away from the stairs that lead to the exit. We followed -without much of a choice- and both wondered aloud what was happening. We ended up at another smaller theatre and all the kids were in a giant circle holding hands and a giant Christmas tree was off to the side. Voss did not want any part of the hand-holding and had a death grip on my leg. One old woman tried to get him out there, "Go on little girl. Get up there." (I have to admit, his hair is quite long all of a sudden). Thankfully, Voss can not understand. Both of us wondered if THIS was when Santa would appear. Nope. Neptune, king of the ocean came out to talk to everyone. He pulled a wrench out of his pocket and everyone yelled "Nyet"...Russian "no." Then he pulls out a giant key and everyone yelled "Da (yes)." The witch came out again and gave up her key as well. Where is this going? An 8 (ish) year old girl came out and did a dance number in the middle of the circle with moves Beyonce could use in her newest music video...backless dress, short skirt, lots of make-up. Everyone broke up into smaller circles, started singing, and that was when they lost me and Voss. We left (Me and Voss have almost the same 2 minute attention span). I guess we will never know what happens next.

Later, I thought about the kids'costumes and remembered that I did see a few stores with costumes in the window and wondered if kids dressed up for Christmas like Americans do for Halloween.

Well, it gets better....This evening, we were sitting down for our second(or third?) Christmas Eve dinner of the season and the door bell rings. Who is that? We have no friends here? When I opened the door, there was a mother and her little girl standing there smiling and holding two bags half filled with food. The girl began reciting something in Russian...sounded like a poem or something. All I could think was, "Shoot, do I give her food? Should I wrap up the chicken to go? Are they hungry? They don't look poor. Are they gypsies? What is going on? I see chocolates and tangerines in her bag...I have a few in my purse, should I pass them on?" Not knowing what to do, I dumped about 10 chocolates into her bag, smiled and said, "Merry Christmas."

Zenon said, "Um, you may want to go easy on the chocolates, we may have more visitors. Let me call Dima and find out what this is all about."

Sure enough, the kids go trick or treating on Christmas Eve! Ha! That is the greatest!! And they have to memorize, like, a one minute religious poem and recite it before getting their treats! I swear! American kids are lucky with the "Trick or Treat." I want to take a video of the next person who rings our door and put it on the blog. These kids are so darn cute!

Unfortunately, Darth Vader has not been here yet.


Marla said...

thanks for have made me both laugh and cry. I love that the kids go door to door at Christmas! That is so funny! I also love that you and Voss went in and checked out that play..if you can't beat em, join em, right?! In true Issel fashion...

I hope time starts to go by extra fast for you! San Diego misses you tons and I won't tell you how good the weather has been because I will feel guilty doing so :-) Give your little girl a kiss from us ;-)

Anonymous said...

Chrystos Razdayetsia! The response is Slavim Yoho. Roughly translated it means Christ is Born, and the response is, Let Us Honour Him. Veselych Sviat means Merry Christmas. This is our greeting to you. You are so descriptive, Cindy, and we love you for it! We know how trying this time is for you, just hang in there. You will be on your way home soon, with your two wonderful sons. We can't wait. Love, Mom and Dad (Baba and Dido)
Our hugs, prayers and kisses are with you.

Anonymous said...

Zenon: just want you to know that we ate the kytia in your honour.
Promise to make you some, plus pyrohy and holubtsi, when we see you again. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

brianna said...

Ha! That play sounds terrifying. I too hope that time starts flying by and that all your dreams come true!!!