Canadian troops enjoy Christmas dinner in Kandahar
Though Canadian troops stationed in Afghanistan spent Christmas half a world away from their friends and families, they were treated to an old fashioned yuletide dinner of turkey, gravy and sugary sweets.
"Nobody could complain about the food in the cafeteria today," The Globe and Mail's Graeme Smith told CTV Newsnet Thursday.
Speaking on the phone from Kandahar, Smith added that the military did their best to create a festive spirit by decking out the mess hall with an ice sculpture and piping in festive bagpipe music.
"We had turkey and gravy and all those good things," said Smith. "For just a moment here in Kandahar, despite being a war zone, it did sort of feel like Christmas."
The troops also managed to spread a little holiday cheer, spending Christmas Eve handing out gifts to students at a nearby school.
"The kids love it, they swarmed the trucks," said Smith.
Soldiers were also treated to a Christmas Eve concert from Ottawa songstress Kathleen Edwards and enjoyed some laughs from Canadian comedian Mike McDonald.
But despite the festive holiday vibes, no one could forget that they remained in a dangerous war zone, Smith said. In fact, during dinner, troops were given instructions of what to do in the event insurgents launched a rocket attack on the base.
Smith also said that many troops were getting homesick and were clogging the phone lines trying to get in touch with their families back in Canada.
"They all miss their families," he said, speaking after the sun had set over Kandahar airfield.
"This is the time of night when the internet slows down to a crawl, and all the phone signals are jammed because everyone is trying to make contact with their loved ones back home."
Smith said that thanks to improved technology, Canadian troops are more connected than ever to their families back home.
"They know exactly what their kids are unwrapping under the tree," he said.
While webcams and the internet allow troops unprecedented contact with their friends and families, the technology can also leave the soldiers feeling further away than ever, said Smith.
"In a way, it also contributes to homesickness I think."
While Canadians from coast to frosty coast were contending with icy temperatures and massive amounts of snow on Christmas, the weather in Kandahar was sunny and approaching 20 degrees Celsius.