My parents came to Central Asia to hang out with us and celebrate the holidays. Even though they’ve only been here less than a week, we’ve already had a few fun, awkward and unusual experiences.
- I shopped for my own Christmas present this year in the hardware store. While I talked with the clerk, my dad and our three-year old perused the store offerings and found a barbecue. My dad asked my son, “Does your daddy have a barbecue?” “Yes,” answered my son. “What does he cook on it?” my dad then asked. “Black meat,” my son replied. That’s the unfortunate truth about my grilling skills; even a three-year old can see they need improvement.
- My dad and I built a lego table for our kids for Christmas (see photo below). We set up our open-air workshop in the front yard and laid our wood on some old stools for makeshift sawhorses. We measured, cut and sanded as well as we could in the cold (about 21 F). My dad would intermittently comment, “My shop at home has a heater”; “My shop at home has a table saw”; “My shop at home has a power sander…”
- After Christmas, I decided to take my wife, kids and parents to my department’s New Year’s office party. New Year’s is a huge holiday here, whereas Christmas is not, and my department pulled out the stops for their party. For New Year’s in Central Asia, toasts and well-wishes are an essential part of any party. In addition, each partygoer is expected to sing a song, recite a poem or provide some sort of entertainment. The first song was…(drum roll please)…Jingle Bells. My dad commented, “I came half way around the world to sing “Jingle Bells?”
- At the department party, it was my job to translate much of the proceedings because most of the entertainment and conversation happened in Russian. My boss asked me to explain the contents of a certain food item to my parents. I obediently explained what it was and then said, “Don’t eat that.” Unfortunately, I had forgotten that, although everyone was chattering in Russian, this was in fact the English department and that almost everyone understood me. Open mouth, insert foot.
- I made pasta salad yesterday, which our younger two boys love. I asked our three-year old if he wanted a fork or spoon to eat his food. No response. “Do you want to eat your pasta salad with fork or a spoon,” I repeated, a bit frustrated. “I want to eat it with my mouth,” he responded.
- Our four-year old got a little brick house (actually a grocery store) that you (actually daddy) glue together brick by brick. The box said it was for age six and up. Perhaps six-year olds are better engineers than I am because I couldn’t figure out how to get the bricks to span the windows and open storefront. In any case, at least my son was able to help glue the shingles on the roof. He then proceeded to start singing “Shingle bells, shingle bells, shingle all the way…”
Happy New Year everyone.
The lego table, in from the frozen workshop for Christmas morning.