Sure, we’re half a world away from home, but that didn’t keep us from spreading holiday cheer here in Afghanistan. Team 28 had the office decorated when we arrived and we continued the planning as we settled in.
Our main event was on the evening of December 24 and we spent the weeks prior prepping. Our volunteers were very helpful and we recruited a few new ones in the process. We packed 200+ goodie bags and gifts that ranged from small games and DVDs to books and comfort items. After setting up a tree (one of 3 in the office) and decorations we gathered outside our building, Motel 8, to share gifts, baked goods, and hot chocolate to anyone who stopped by. Santa took time out of his busy schedule to visit the troops here at Bagram and the 1st Infantry Division Band provided some lovely holiday tunes. To continue the festivities, we held a 48 hour movie marathon with a full range of holiday favorites.
Along with the events here in Bagram, volunteers helped us pack some great care packages complete with some Holiday Mail for Heroes cards to send off to the other FOBs.
For me, the best present was the 5K on Christmas morning. I stayed up after the night shift ended to run the race before heading to bed. Many might find that odd, but those who know me understand. It was a great surprise to see the rest of Team 29 cheering me on at the finish line! After the race, we went back to the office to open presents from the NHQ staff and our Secret Santas.
As we opened presents, the IDF sirens began to go off. We headed down to first floor of the building and waited for the all clear.
After the all clear, the sun was already up and I got ready for bed. After a long night and the 5K I was more than ready to get some rest. As soon as I returned from the shower and got into my sweats, there was a boom and the sirens began to go off again. The all Bagram intercom instructed us that everyone was to wear their body armor until further notice. Sirens continued to go off all day. So much for sleep!
As far as work went, it was just another day of delivering ECMs and keeping the canteen festive and stocked. One our evening volunteers came in and made sure A Christmas Story was playing and we chatted about what we would be doing if we were home. We ate our Christmas dinner in our body armor and learned that it was quite a challenge.
After my shift ended, I spent some time at MWR talking to my family and friends. I know they would have liked to have me home, but it was a great experience to be here in Afghanistan doing our best to spread holiday cheer and supporting our service members.
*Photo credits to Brittany Reynolds