Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas in Afghanistan

I freely admit that I was apprehensive about how Christmas would be this year -- being alone and away from my family.  Cristi and I tried to plan it so that it would be as good as it could be.  I had presents shipped to me to open.  I had Christmas music on my iPod playing continuously.  Cristi even sent me garland and Christmas lights.  Still, what would it be like, spending it alone, not seeing the joy on my kids' faces on Christmas morning.

I have to tell you that it was pretty good.  As I mentioned last week, the Christmas spirit came out early and in full force.  I shared a picture of the Christmas tree the cops created over in our living area.  This week, a decorated armored truck appeared, and the various squadrons painted Christmas cards and set them out in the courtyard. 

Yes, that's a picture of me down in the corner.  Alas, I'm in my service dress.  Not very combat-looking. 

I told the Defenders we needed to get a new picture of me all geared up.  Stand by for one of those...

On Christmas Eve, we had our Christmas party. Of course Santa and his elves were there...or was that Santa and his personal security detail?

They had events all through the day, including an ugly sweater contest, poker tournament, Madden tournament, and raffles for cool electronics like iPads and Kindle Fires.  My cops twisted my arm to be in the scavenger hunt.  Boy, was that fun!  They sat right up front and supplied me with everything from a driver's license to a stapler.  I was determined to win.  After all, there was a cash prize on the line!  I intercepted a water bottle and a set of dog tags and shoved multiple people out of the way to secure my spot in the ever-decreasing number of chairs.  Finally, I was defeated for a black sock.  Who just happens to have one of those?!?  We're supposed to be wearing green!  Never fear!  One of the cops literally ran back to his room to grab one but was just a bit too slow, foiled by the person that has one of everything.

Later, we got all the folks here that I had gone through the Air Advisor Academy with and got a picture.  This is a great bunch of folks.  We've committed to having dinner together once a week just to rag on one another and laugh over the latest insanity.  Most of us make sure we're there so that we're not the ones talked about!

Christmas morning I FaceTimed with the family (Christmas Eve night for them), and they watched me open my presents.  Then I met up with my boss, and we visited the cops and some of our folks on the flightline to spread Christmas cheer (some of our advisors even helped launch aircraft that day!).  It's a good thing we took a big box of goodies because we ran into several Afghans out on the flightline.  They don't have candy bars and general junk food there, so they love it any time they can get their hands on it.  It was great to see them smile.  Along the way, we got invited into one of the Afghan colonels' offices and had chai.  He had his son there visiting.  I asked him if he wanted to be like his dad and go in the Air Force.  He said no, he wanted to be president!

We made it back to base in time for lunch, which was a good thing since we were helping serve.  The spread was amazing!  They had a bigger feast than I've ever had for any holiday meal.  We certainly weren't lacking.  The picture below shows the spread of just the desserts!  Check out the vegetable art, too.  Yes, that's all vegetables, and, yes, that's the AF logo carved into that watermelon!  Our chow hall staff is AMAZING!

Christmas night, I got to FaceTime with the family again and watch them open their presents for their Christmas morning.  I admit this one was difficult.  I really wanted to be there with them.  This time just seeing them wasn't enough.  Somehow, the joy and laughter didn't come through the video screen like it had on other calls.  Thankfully, I also got to talk to my parents shortly afterward and celebrate with them.  I know it made their day, and it made me smile, too.  Fortunately, the day was almost over, too, and tomorrow was another day.  Fortunately also I had much to be thankful for:  I got to talk to my family twice.  I am safe.  I got to have a wonderful meal.  I got to make some Afghans' day just by sharing some candy.  I got to serve those who normally get very little thanks for what they do -- my cops.  And, it's the one time of year that the world pauses to remember a baby that brings hope into all the world.  How could it get any better?


  1. I'm glad your Christmas away from home turned out okay. I'm a bit worried about Santa's security detail, though.

  2. Hey! Even Santa's got to be safe in Afghanistan!