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This was the first time I spent Christmas away from the homeland.  It was definitely difficult but kind of fun in an unconventional way.  Plus Armenia is the first nation to have officially adopted Christianity so that’s a neat place to go for Christmas.  And don’t try to tell me otherwise.  However, Armenians don’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, but January 6th instead.  I guess originally Christmas was on the 6th but then the Romans didn’t find it convenient, so they switched it around to fit their new calendar, but Armenia kept the date, yada yada yada, now there’s a disparity between dates of celebrification.

All in all, I think it was probably the best alternative I could have had to not being with my family, and here I am 5,000 miles away in post soviet lands with a bunch of armenians who don’t even celebrate the 25th of December.  I was in the mountain town of Tzakhadzor for 3 days with my host MFI because they were having their year-end company-wide conference which involves workshops as well as a chance to just bring everyone together once a year.

I spent time sitting in on the workshops but also got a chance to walk around the city and see what the town was all about.  On the 24th I happened to cruise by a church and stopped in to freestyle a little Christmas Eve mass.  A priest even came in and started saying what appeared to be a mass, but I wasn’t too sure and didn’t stick around to find out.

Christmas itself fell on the third and final day of the conference, which was great.  During the day I actually went skiing (see below) and then at night they held the end-of-conference party.  this involved massive amounts of food, lots of wine, and vodka.  the food was the standard armenian horovatz — delicious barbecued pork accompanied with lots of bread, fresh veggies, and wonderful armenian treats.  we feasted and toasted together with all 200+ Aregak employees.  A great pseudo Christmas if I do say so myself.  And a pretty good way to juxtapose the year-end mfi party onto my concept of December 25th.  Lucked out there and was great to make me feel at home.

Eventually, Armenian dancing broke out as they had a live band as well as a rented Santa to MC the events with some year-end awards going out.  I was REALLY hoping for most-improved loan officer but I was BARELY beaten out by a 10-year veteran.  I guess she deserved it.  I was pulled into the armenian dancing eventually and had a grand time.  Armenian dancing is kind of like Irish footwork with middle eastern arm work.  I like it.


So I have now completed one of my top 7 life objectives: I have now successfully skied at top speed down a mountain in the former soviet union while eluding a KGB agent chasing me with a klobb.  This now certifies me as an official yellow belt along the becoming-james-bond continuum. (more…)


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