I don’t know what it is about them, but Christmas carols utterly sap my motivation to do work. I just want to go drink some eggnog (rather soynog; after all, if I’m fantasizing, why not go for broke?) and trim a tree or ice a gingerbread house or engage in something else suitably festive. I also get weirdly emotional. While listening to, as my iPod puts it, (There’s no place like) Home for the Holidays or Do You Hear What I Hear, I tear up so much I can’t read my computer screen. While it makes sense that the former gets me, I think the latter just makes me a sap.
Objectively, I know that Christmas is nearly upon us and have been trying my damndest to get into the ‘Christmas spirit’. I’ve done what is in my limited power to make my plywood place pretty, adorning the walls and bed frame with lights and fake poinsettias, and have had bits of candy cane firmly embedded in my molars for the past few weeks. My boss laughed at me, but I find it’s the little details that make me happy and keep me sane. Still, Christmas somehow feels farther away, as though it’s the beginning of December or maybe even November. It’s an odd temporal disconnect, though it is pleasant to note how fast the time here is going.
At any rate, this marks my first ever Christmas away from home. Not just away from home, but totally absent family of friends. I have passed birthdays, Easters, and even the occasional Thanksgiving in the company of good friends. However, what close friends I did have here mostly left, having ripped out earlier this month. I vaguely suppose this must be what it feels like to grow old – gradually having friends and family trickle out of your life whether through choice or necessity or fate. Feeling a loneliness stretch before you.
Yep, there’s that Christmas spirit I’ve been searching for – I’m full of it! It appears that I’m getting ahead of myself; there is clearly no need to summon the Ghost of Christmas Future when I’m have enough difficulties with that of the Present. And lest my self-pitting hyperbole make Christmas here seem unfairly bleak, I remain tickled, as always, by base life. The holidays, like so much else, are approached with a hilarious level of pragmatism. For example, just as my priest simply blesses a bottle of Dasani for Mass (not actually Dasani, but a Russian knock-off), he also uses a Bic lighter on the Advent candles. The primary decoration in our multi-denominational chapel is fly strips. Other areas of camp express flashes of determination to celebrate Christmas in some way. The JAG office has a particularly nice tree out front of their B-Hut office and the laundry is positively bursting with festivity. It looks a bit as though a Christmas tree exploded, with tinsel and lights strewn across every available surface. I don’t know who direct their efforts, but the Afghans who work there really did an exemplary job.
For my part, I have an inexplicable desire to see one of the MRAP decals (expectedly aggressive images like skulls, wolves, and angular Terminator-looking faces) accessorized with a Santa hat. No soap as of yet. I would undertake some late-night Yuletide vandalism and do it myself, if I wasn’t concerned about being shot. Short of that, I want to wind some of the lights my parents sent me through the concertina wire surrounding the bazaar. Very carefully, of course. It’s not quite decking the halls, but I also don’t have any gay apparel. One must make do. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to Silver Bells and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas until my spreadsheets get all blurry. From my perch in paradise, I wish all of you and yours the happiest of holidays.