November 22, 2012
Stationed in: Afghanistan
It’s Thanksgiving, which under normal circumstances is probably my favorite holiday of the year. It’s uncomplicated by gifts and religion, and focuses on family and a time of plenty. The weather is usually good and it offers hope at work for the longer holiday break ahead.
Being deployed puts Thanksgiving on the other end of the spectrum for me. It’s probably my least favorite day of the year. This year Thanksgiving offers another ten months of seven-day work weeks.
I met with Afghans today, and as I trooped out to meet them I wondered “Who planned this on Thanksgiving?” It was probably scheduled weeks ago, certainly before my arrival and done without looking at a calendar. The meeting ran nearly three hours; it was scheduled for two. We actually got to the items that we had agreed to discuss in the final minutes and basically closed the deal while walking out the door. I was thankful that it was over.
The boss ran us out of the building in the early afternoon. I’m not exactly sure where we were supposed to go, so I stayed. Time off is the one thing everybody craves and it’s the one thing that I don’t always know what to do with. I walked over and got a cup of coffee and climbed the stairs to the top of a building where I could overlook some of the city. I watched the sun set behind TV Hill in Kabul, obscured in a haze of dust and smoke with clouds looming in the distance. The temperature drops quickly here and the weather is indeed fall-like, but unless you can make it to the outskirts of town it’s absent any color except brown. As the sun set, it went from cool to almost cold. I was thankful for a coat and scarf and for not worrying about having a warm spot to sleep.
I rounded my buddy up and headed to chow. Predictably, there were general officers serving dinner. It was actually a decent spread, complete with stuffing, ham, turkey, beef, beans and potatoes. The big surprise for me was finding a tray of smoked salmon and some real cheese. There was also a giant table of fresh fruit, which is not a common sight. I ate my fill and wondered how many guys were going to eat a cold meal tonight. Then I wondered how many Afghans wouldn’t eat tonight at all. It seemed a bit awkward to eat so well, but I was thankful for the effort.