When you are the non-working spouse in the foreign service, you’re the one that runs the mid-week errands like grocery shopping, taking the cat to the vet, and getting the car fixed. It can sometimes be a pain, but it comes with the benefit that you get to know the city and the rhythms of life in your new country. Today I went grocery shopping for New Year’s Eve dinner and saw Mongolians getting ready for the holiday. Again, it’s not as important as Tsagaan Sar (lunar new year), but the stores were super crowded for a weekday, and clearly many people were shopping for New Year’s. Maybe it’s ranks like Thanksgiving does to Americans. The stores had extra displays of champagne and chocolate (traditional New Year’s gifts), people were clamoring for cakes at the bakery counters, there were big bins of fresh strawberries and mandarin oranges with the stems, and I think I even saw a couple of roast turkeys. I was most surprised to see so many fresh strawberries — you never see that during winter here. Also, there was American Christmas music playing, and some chocolate Santas for sale. Happy New Year from Mongolia.