The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


December 25, 2006

Name: Doug Traversa
Posting date: 12/24/06
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url

On Christmas Eve, my hutmate Mike asked all of us in our side of the hut to sing some Christmas carols for his wife and daughter. He was going to record them on his camera, and send the file to her by e-mail. Of course we agreed, and tried to figure out a song the four of us all knew. We got it down to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells". Standing at the end of our hall (right next to Maj Apple's room, so only a single sheet of plywood would protect him from the audio onslaught) the Barbershop Quartet from Hell sang "Rudolph", then watched ourselves on Mike's laptop. I'm glad to say that I'm not the only awful singer in our group. I had pretty stiff competition.

At this point we thought it would be pretty cool if we could sing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". So we hunted the lyrics down on the internet, and we were all set. Yes, we did sing it, and yes, it was pretty bad. And that's being generous. In fact, Maj Apple yelled through the wall, "For the love of God, please stop!" The files were way too large to send, however, so Mike got online with his wife and daughter with a video feed, and we all crowded into Mike's room and sang both songs again. They seemed to enjoy it, which proves that love is not only blind, but also deaf. Framedtraversaxmasdinner_1

Yesterday we had our Christmas lunch at Central Movement Agency, the Afghan Army base where I work. It all started a couple of weeks ago, when Maj Apple was touring the new HQ building with the CMA Commander, Col Fatiullah and his staff. In the course of their conversation, Col Fatiullah asked when our Christmas Holiday was coming up. He didn't know much about it, but knew it was important to us, and they wanted to help us celebrate. We agreed to have a lunch together, all the ANA troops, officer and enlisted, and all of us, in their chow hall. SMSgt White headed up a team to collect candy and decorations. The morning of the lunch, Col Fatiullah came into our office and asked what we would like to eat. Maj Apple explained that we wanted to eat with the troops, and eat exactly what they ate. Col Fatiullah was nonplussed. HeFramedtraversalaurencard_1 wanted the lunch to be special, since it was an important holiday for us. We told him that in the military we all ate together on Christmas (and most other times too) and it would be special just to be together. So he agreed, and said all his officers would eat with the soldiers too.

The meal was a smashing success.  Everyone seemed to have a good time, the soldiers grabbed up the candy happily, and lots of people wanted their photographs taken. It was one of the best Christmas meals I've ever had. We really did feel like we were with family. There are more photos on my blog, but here is a picture of one of our centerpieces -- a card from five-year old Lauren, which says simply, "Please stay safe. Love Lauren."

We'll try really hard, Lauren. Merry Christmas.


Wonderful post ! So funny and full of love ! Thank you so much, for the post and for the job you re doing !

Take very great care of yourself, you and your buddies, all of you over there ! You re not with your families, but you re in their hearts every minute of every day, so stay safe, they all love you !

Merry Christmas from France to you and to all the Americans who are working so far from their homes !

Take care, stay safe ! Love from francoise.

Ditto Lauren - Doug your post brought tears to my eyes. You are so lucky!

It was said already, but thank goodness you have some type of family there to celebrate the holidays with since you can't be home with your wife and child... You guys/gals were in our Christmas blessing yesterday... Please stay safe, and remember there are many of us in the states thinking and praying for you and your families... May God Bless you and Keep you...

Just remember that you're loved and supported back Home and you always will be. Please take care and be safe.

They seemed to enjoy it, which proves that love is not only blind, but also deaf.

The files were way too large to send, however, so Mike got online with his wife and daughter with a video feed, and we all crowded into Mike's room and sang both songs again.

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