Monday was more running around and cleaning and preparing.
Tuesday (Christmas) we had a little family thing in the morning. The presents were little and not very impressive but everyone was happy. That night Ilya’s and Lyosha’s family came over for Christmas dinner. I was trying not to stress because the oven was not working right, and the turkey I’d put in at 1:30 that afternoon was nowhere near done at six when everyone showed up. I’d made a chocolate torte, hazelnut biscotti, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, and stuffing. The stuffing itself was a feat I’m very proud of given the difficulty level of finding (and sometimes inventing) the ingredients. But the dang turkey…in the end we cut up the white meat which was already done and left the dark to roast for later. We pulled the couches and seats all together around our tiny table and everyone ate until we nearly blew up. There were five kids ranging in ages from 1 to four, and that made life interesting. Originally Ilya had brought the church’s projector over and we were going to watch Lord of the rings on a big screen, but with all the kids taking turns getting into stuff or crying it didn’t work out. Still, it was fun to hang out and eat and talk. I got to meet Anya, Lyosha’s wife, and we got to talk some and that was good. I think the whole thing went pretty well.
Wednesday I was again put on the spot and asked to play Christmas songs and talk about American Christmas traditions and the real meaning of Christmas at an “English Club.” I have to say, Wednesday started bad and kept up the theme of kaka all day long. We went to bed late Christmas day, and of course after a whole day of cooking and errands and entertaining we were wiped. As soon as we laid down this strange annoying vibrating sound started up. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, and it wasn’t like the pleasant hum of an air conditioner, or something else that you could get used to and fall asleep. This was more along the lines of a noise that sets your teeth on edge and after a few minutes your shoulders are somewhere around the level of your ears. I tried to ignore it. We banged on the neighbors walls. We stalked through the house at four in the morning trying to get an idea of where the noise was loudest. Finally my body granted me a bit of mercy and fell asleep, only to have irritating tense dreams that were almost worse than being awake and hearing the noise. So Wednesday dawned bright and early with both Art and I feeling like zombies. All day long things went wrong. Art had no luck with the things he was trying to do. The kids were hyper and psycho from being indoors for so long. I spent hours online trying to find Christmas carols with chords in the right key and trying to figure out how to operate Windows Vista (the stupidest thing Microsoft ever came up with, and that’s saying something) which also happens to be in Russian. I refused to even consider what I was going to say at the club because I didn’t want to press my already bad luck.
The day progressed. We decided we couldn’t take it anymore, and we took the kids to the scary playground to let them run off some energy. It was pretty cold, and windy, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. They ran around and played on the swings, and entertained a baby girl that was toddling around the yard in her winter moonsuit. Then Ilya came to pick me up. We were supposed to go to his brothers house to practice the songs, then go to the meeting from there. Then his car died. Art helped him push start it, then it died again. I helped him push start it, and it stayed alive long enough to get to Lyosha’s house. We were talking about what a sucky day it was, and how nothing seemed to be going right, and as we were discussing it Lyosha came out of his flat to say we didn’t have time to practice and that we had to go now. I laughed, because it seemed like the thing to do. I sort of jokingly asked Ilya if he had printed up the music sheets and he just looked at me blankly. Oye. I thought, okay, well, I guess I can fudge a few carols. I know the first verses of nearly every song, and it’s not like anyone gets it if I sing the first verse several times. Then we loaded our stuff into Lyosha’s 33 year old car, and it wouldn’t start. Ilya got his car, pushed it down to where we were, and they somehow got Lyosha’s to start. We all piled in like a Mexican family and made our way to the Hotel Novorossysk.
Fortunately, nobody was on time so we had a chance to get set up and I wrote down the chords to a few songs. Strangely, all the annoyances and bad luck of the day hadn’t really stressed me out. That’s odd, because unfortunately I am not a laid back person. I prayed that God would use me even if I stammered like a moron or played the songs wrong. Well, the songs went fine and my little speech went fine, too. I got the chance to talk to each of the people that came, mostly in Russian because not all of them could speak English well. There weren’t very many people there, but as Lyosha said I think it was a good thing because we got the chance to really talk to everyone afterwards instead of being overwhelmed with a crowd. All’s well that ends well, I guess, and the crappy bad luck day ended pretty well.