I hope everyone had a great holiday surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. The after-days are here and how I wish I was there! Imagine all the shopping I could be doing. Every year I look forward to the after Christmas sales, but I can never seem to drag myself out into the crowds. After all, it's still "tis the season" and thoughts of running people over with my shopping cart are not appropriate, at least not until mid-January. But, by virtue of the fact that I can't go shop right now makes me wish I was in that mall even more! So, in response to my current limitations, I decided my plan would be to flood the online stores galore. But, "someone" seems to have cut our fiber optics here and we are henceforth restricted to all sites that are not .coms (to free up bandwidth, as I understand it). I must say, the shopping options are pretty dismal on the .mils, .govs, and .nets. Goodness! Foiled again!
Let's see, what's been going on here? On Christmas Day, I served lunch at the chow hall to the troops. My office had planned on attending a pizza and chicken party after serving. While the effort was much appreciated, I just can't seem to wrap my arms around a Merry Christmas with Pizza Hut and Popeyes - yes, we have them here. Call me crazy, but I turned down the pizza and chicken and gladly dug into the turkey. I was pleasantly amazed. The folks at the chow hall (often a thankless job) cooked an outstanding and tasteful display. Now, if you're the one that claims it's "all in the gravy", well, that was great, too. Also available for one's eating pleasure was what, I think, is prime rib. Before I go any further, you should know I have my food hangups and I just can't seem to bring myself to eat meat from a 2 foot animal leg bone. If my food looks like Wilbur or Nemo without a smile, forget it; think Pig-on-a-Spit! Now, I can eat well-done steak and chicken breasts all day long, but the minute my dinner resembles an animal (fish with heads, shrimp, lobster, crabs, etc.), I'm outta there! No can do. For those that can - more power to ya! All said, the Christmas meal was a great meal, great effort, and the best that one could hope for, all considering!
After the meal, I went back to my living quarters. It was there that I realized time is passing and my young chipperness (I know, not a word) is dwindling. I can honestly say I don't ever remember a time when the turkey zzz's got me. I've never understood the "I'm tired" mantra. Well, that afternoon I decided to lay down on my bed and pull out my computer to check email. The next thing I knew, I was waking up and 2 hours had passed. The turkey zzz's got me! I'm now part of the stereotypical holiday image - old people dozing in recliners and sofas while football plays in the background. Uff-da, what has happened to me? Am I not 21 yrs old anymore? When did that happen?
Back to Bagram. The feeling that is ever present now is that Christmas is done, over, and gone. The heaviness has lifted and everyone is coming alive again. As much as we want to embrace and hold on to the feeling of the holidays, we never quite had it and what we did have is slipping away. For most people during this time of the year I think this is a somber feeling, but here in Afghanistan it means we are over the hump and on the down slope. As sad as it is or should be, we are happy and coming back to life. We are one day closer...
By the way, I want to extend a thank you to everyone who has sent items for the local Afghan kids and families. The winter is upon us and it's getting so cold. You kind people have send coats which will be put to great use. The soccer balls were a HUGE hit. The warm wool socks were given to a man who only had sandals to wear - fabulous! The stuffed animals have gone to the kids in the hospital, the race cars shared by so many, the dolls admired. You all have been so wonderful to think of the folks here. I appreciate it so much and they appreciate it more than you could ever imagine without seeing it first hand. This coming week, I will start at an all-volunteer organization (all military folks) here on Bagram that gather donations from people like you. The items are then sorted and delivered to the women and children who need them most. I look forward to the opportunity to do more for these people. Gently worn shoes, blankets, clothes, socks etc. are still greatly needed. If you are clearing out your closets, please consider sending any unused items. If you are interested, leave a comment for me at the end of this post and I will respond back to you. There are some cultural and force protection guidelines that you should be aware of (no pigs on anything, no battery operated stuff, etc.).
Yesterday, I visited the hospital. Nazia is still there but I hope she heads to Cincinnati, soon. She is so cute! She can't utter a word, but she gets her point across! She is also a little mow-cow when she eats. She wanted to stuff a 2 inch piece of chicken in her mouth yesterday and it was all I could do to get it from her (okay - it wasn't that hard). Having never seen her eat though, it freaked me out a bit as it sounded like she was choking at times due to her medical condition. I also never realized how much English she understands. She totally gets what you are saying - or so it seems. So cute. After her operation, it pains me to think of the life she will return to and grow up in. How I wish women here had the freedoms we Americans enjoy. Have you ever really, really thought about that? Can you imagine, as a woman, not being allowed out of your four walls? A prisoner in your home with a life sentence. You child is deathly ill and you can't even leave your home to get her medical aid or bring her to a clinic. How I hope the Taliban is defeated.
Another little girl in the hospital is Zohara (sp). Not sure on her condition, but I've heard she either had a brain tumor or shrapnel wound. Not sure which is the correct story, but all the same, she is adorable. I gave her a coat and dolly. She just loved them. Furthermore, she had just returned to her bed from surgery not more than 30 minutes before I got there. I am amazed at her resilience.
If anyone would like pics of the kids, please let me know. I happen to be in most of the pics and that sorta ruins my anonymity motif that I have going on!
So, here's to New Years everyone! I hope that you all enjoy the holiday, make silly resolutions, and keep the Christmas spirit year-round!
In the meantime, enjoy the cute pic of my little one in the header of this post! Cute, eh! (photo credit to Caroline - see the link in the left column named KreateSomething)