Well, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody! It’s something like 10:30 pm, and I am sitting here still in Taji, waiting for the internet to connect. I hope everybody is having a great dinner, lots of fun, friends and family.
The Iraqi’s had a wonderful lunch and dinner set up for us. I was a little wary at first, since they don’t know or understand about the holiday, but as it turned out, it was ok. They put on a very big meal, complete with turkey, ham, steaks, stuffing, and the whole thing. Lots of desserts, (but not enough chocolate for my taste) drinks, and they even decorated. The whole thing was very heartwarming and made us all feel better.
It’s interesting how we tend to treat the holidays sometimes. Everything is so commercialized, and every holiday has some gimmick or sale point that we are hammered with. Cute Christmas polar bears (buy Coke!!) fancy elves (Keebler’s elves, by the way) Cupid (at your local Hallmark Store) and the list goes on and on. Even the movies we watch that are supposed to make us feel better about the holidays, some moral tale about right over wrong; they are loaded with product placements, fancy gadgets, and impossibly beautiful people. Last year when I was here, I had this conversation with my cousin, about how incredibly powerful the media is, and its pull on society as a whole, how it spins things, directs our attention, and makes us forget about something less important. I mean, this whole war was nothing more than a big spin, wasn’t it? Incite the Americans, get them to rally around the flag, than launch them into a an epic battle against an obviously weaker and unprepared foe. Create a mystical hero (Jessica Lynch, the blonde bombshell warrior) and craft some story about heroic deeds and plaster it on every newspaper and television show in the free world. Go “inside” to tell the story of evil insurgents, and heartbreaking drama of villagers freed from “oppression”, getting and receiving food, smiling, laughing and voting. It all sounds so nice and perfect, just like a Hollywood ending. Makes you want to donate money.
But down here, where we don’t have the commercialization, where the spin has no hold on us because we are out of touch with the rest of society (no TV, no newspapers, limited internet access), where life does go on without regard to time, the holiday has a different feeling. I think, as I looked around the room at dinner, I saw 300 guys glad to be alive, glad to be safe, glad to be together. Some said prayers in thanks, some were a little gloomy that they missed their families, but in general, we were thankful for the chance to live one more day. We are thankful for being given an opportunity to make something better for somebody. We are thankful that the cooks and workers gave so much for us and asked for nothing in return but our acceptance and maybe a thank you or two. We are just thankful to BE, and that’s all there is to it. Maybe the pilgrims felt the same way, when the Indians showed up with food to share. Maybe the pioneers understood as the made their way across the open plains.
Maybe I am just gloomy because I am stuck here in this shithole…
No, well, a little. Anyways, thanks for making us feel better guys, and happy thanksgiving to everybody.