New Year’s Celebration #1 was the office party. We had a week-long kick off with the “monito” (like a secret Santa) who left small gifts on your desk every day. This was great: a pack of cookies, some gummy snacks, a juice box. The party was at a restaurant that was decked out as if for Christmas. A musician brought his murin huur, but played only one song live; the rest of the evening he was the DJ. I tell you, the dancing was nonstop and everyone got up there at some point. No wallflowers allowed! In between the songs, there were games and end-of-the-year staff awards. There was also a raffle of home items from the department: rice cooker, iron, even a washing machine! Finally, there was the gift to your “monito” (which in my office was not the same person you’d been giving gifts to all week, but the person you’d been receiving from). Our limit was 20,000 togrogs (about $12) and I got my guy (I was told it was a young guy) a nice sweater for exactly that much. The evening lasted over 5 hours and I’m sure I can say a good time was had by all.
New Year’s Celebration #2 was the school party. I’d imagined a small-scale, classroom-based affair, but no. This was school-wide and so it had to be in the gym. It also included awards (for the outstanding seniors), dancing (choreographed), students playing morin huur, Winter Grandpa, kids in animal costumes, and two kids in clown costumes who were really obnoxious, but I think that was their job. I wish I could have stayed longer but not knowing it was such a big event, I’d only allowed myself two hours.
New Year’s Celebration #3 was with my CP’s family on New Year’s Eve. It was a quiet evening at their home, which seems to be the norm, at least in Govi-Altai. The TV was on, but the channel was changed quite a bit. I arrived at 10pm but was still given food to eat. At midnight, we toasted with champagne and ate cake. This was the same routine we’d followed last year, just the 5 of us. And it occurred to me that I won’t be there next New Year’s Eve. The Mongolian president came on TV, in a ger surrounded by people I am to assume are his family, and he toasted the New Year with milk tea. Also, my CP said that he thanked the foreigners living in Mongolia, helping to move the country forward. Boo-yah.