It has been a usual day here, although I did get a few extra hours off. I went to Midnight Mass last night and the chapel was packed. Chow was a little better than usual, and I had a long telephone coversation with my beautiful Wife, who indulged me by singing Silent Night to me in spanish. That was the best present that I could have received.
I brought several boxes of See's Candy into the TOC today that were sent by my family, and presented them to the Iraqi Soldiers and Officers - Did I mention this whole country has a huge sweet tooth? They each had several pieces which they enjoted thoroughly and wished me a Merry Christmas. I found that somewhat surprising and heartwarming that the Iraqis were the ones to initiate Christmas greetings. I also shared the candy with the rest of the US MiTT Advisors, so it did not last long.
Although it is obviously Christmas, as evidenced by the decorations that have proliferated all over the FOB in the past few weeks, it never feels quite that way unless I am home. There are lights decorating the trailers of many troops, fake trees and even an inflatable snowman in front of a company command post. There is even a Nativity Scene out in front of the main chow hall - don't tell the ACLU... By far the funniest thing I have seen was a Soldier dressed up as Santa manning the gun-turret of an up-armored HMMWV as it drove across the FOB. He was waving and shouting Christmas greetings to all of the troops, who could not help staring and laughing. As I stood in the back of the chapel, thinking about the past year, and my impending return to the US in a few weeks, I felt a sense of peace I have not felt in many months. It is amazing Christmas always does that to me, in spite of where I am. One feeling continues to well up within me looking back on the last year - gratitude. Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men. God Bless us, every one.