Fun Fact: Christmas Races

I know it's been about three months since Christmas. But, all of the recent snow makes it seem like we're still in the middle of winter, so I only feel moderately embarrassed about writing a post about a Shishmaref Christmas tradition...



The week in between Christmas and New Year's is full of Christmas games. One of the games is foot races. This is me and one of my students before the races.


Everybody races against people in their age group. My age group consisted of women ages 25-29. The race marshall is writing down our names on the official clipboard.



Getting ready to start. You will notice I had my game face on. I take these things very seriously.



Our race was about 100 meters long. It consisted of running down "main street" and around a man that was our place marker. You will notice that we all began the race in a pretty close pack.



During the home stretch I pulled away from the pack.



Toward the end of the race, I was clearly in the lead. I was also clearly wearing snow pants that were too short for me.

(Note to readers: I don't typically wear pink Nikes with my winter apparel. Big boots are just hard to run in. Thank you.)



The award ceremony for my race was later that night. There was a big board with the rankings for all of the day's races. For your viewing convenience I circled my race results with my red spray paint tool in Photoshop.



They call of the racers up individually, and their honeys pin a ribbon on them. Steve pinned my ribbon on. There's no picture of that because he was also acting as my personal photographer and couldn't fill both responsibilities simultaneously.

(Note to readers: the top I'm wearing is a traditional eskimo shirt called a kuspuk. Many people in Shishmaref wear them on special occasions. Racing awards are definitely considered a special occasion.)



The IRA (tribal council) gave each racer a check. First place got $30, second place $25, and third place $20. I am examining my sa-weet $30 check. Hey Shishmaref IRA! Thanks for the moolah! I used mine to go on a shopping spree!



This is where things get really fun. After the checks are presented, a member of the IRA council gives each racer a bag pull of presents and leads the crowd in a hip-hip-hooray for all of the racers. That promotes all kind of warm fuzzies. Then, community members come up and put presents in your bag!!!!



I was totally jazzed to check out the presents in my bag, but I had the decency to wait until after the award ceremony. This is me with my bag of presents from the IRA.



The bag was tied securely with a knot. Hey IRA, thanks keeping my presents safely sealed in the bag!



These are pretty typical items in the IRA gift bag. Both are very nice to have. I am often too cheap to buy paper towels on my own.

(Note to readers: I always buy toilet paper. No matter what the cost.)



This year's IRA bag also sported instant oatmeal. Sweet!



IRA gift bags always contain at least one item of clothing. I'm not sure where the clothing comes from, but this year I totally scored vintage Guess jeans.



These are the original authentic stovepipe-leg light-colored straight from the eighties Guess jeans. I'm thinking of selling them on E-bay for $300.

(Note to readers: I would love to rock these jeans with a side ponytail and a hot pink sweater with beads on it, but they're size negative fourteen and a half. I won't be wearing them any time soon, barring any unfortunate incidents with accidental liposuction or parasites.)



There was also the obligatory bag of ribbon candy and nuts. I chipped a tooth trying to crack open racing nuts one year. (Hey Dad! I know using my teeth for things is bad! I'm sorry!)



Once the IRA bag was emptied I moved on to the other goodies people had put in my bag. One of my students made these ornaments out of seal skin.



Some of my presents had my name on them. That made me happy. It was like they were meant for me and not just randomly placed in my bag (not that I mind random presents...).



This is me opening a pair of fuzzy pink socks. You can tell by how wide my mouth is open that I was pretty excited about them.



The pink socks were a gift from one of my students. She said she bought them for me, "So you don't have to wear those stained ones any more." That's a direct quote. Nice to know people are watching out for me.



This is the gift Steve put in my bag. It was a book. He had given me on Christmas Day. That I had already unwrapped. It turns out, Steve forgot to save one of my presents to use as a racing gift. That's a huge relationship no-no in Shishmaref. Luckily, our marriage is strong enough to handle such incidents.



To spare all of my gentle readers from endless pictures of all of my gifts (and believe me, I have one of every single thing I was given), I decided to group the gifts into general categories for group shots. This is the "Edible Category."



"Personal Hygiene Category."



"Useful Kitchen Supplies Category."

I'd love to be able to post pictures of Steve's racing adventure, but he DIDN'T RACE. Not even the IRA check and bag of presents was enough to entice him.

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He might have had a good reason. This is a picture of Steve after his race during Christmas Week 2005. A person should only have to go through that once in their life.