Today is the midpoint between “Catholic” Christmas and Orthodox Christmas, so I guess it’s as good a time as any to comment briefly on what went down on the 25th.

Annoyingly, Russians who are involved in European languages always want to play “Christmas,” and, since they generally have nothing in particular going on on the 25th, they generally schedule these things for Christmas Day itself. Jolly good for them, but jolly inconvenient for the foreigner(s) they invite as guests of honor, who probably have Skype dates to be preparing for (or, in the case of the Christmas in Cherepovets, the only Christmas Nathan and I have ever celebrated together to enjoy). Even if we didn’t, we would not want to work on the biggest holiday of the year, guys. And yes, attending school functions counts as work, even if you bill it as a “party,” and all we have to do is “enjoy the show and maybe say a few words”–because (a) it’s never that simple, (b) the show is probably not really all that enjoyable when all the performers are strangers, and (c) I am a terrible toastmaster.

I thought I would be off the hook this year. But once my vocabulary teacher finally figured out that I’m not German, he started having all kinds of propositions for his newfound Anglichanka (I am still not able to convince him that I’m not English). The only one that I was able to help him with was an English song contest/Christmas party at the school where his mom teaches. He put me in touch with her, and she told me that they just wanted a native speaker to be a poster child, say a few nice words after the competition, and decide which act had the best pronunciation. She assured me that it would “create a festive mood” for my holiday. Quite.

Anyway, I agreed, because the whole concert was organized by the teacher’s 10th-grade students, and you have to encourage that kind of initiative. And, in fact, the show was pretty awesome for what it was. It took place at a military boarding school, which is a place I would never be able to see the inside of normally, and my favorite act (which, unfortunately, didn’t win) was the 11th-grade drum corps, which did their little drumming thing, then had an eleven-year-old dressed like he must think rappers dress (and therefore Freddie Mercury…?), come out and sing “We Will Rock You.” It was hilarious.


After being introduced as a “special guest from England” (NOW REALLY) and saying my few words, I got flowers and a letter of thanks (in Russia, even volunteering at extracurricular events requires you to leave a paper trail). Then the teacher drove me home, which she took as an opportunity to try to convince me to marry her son, my professor.