HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OF YOU!
I realize that this blog has become somewhat haphazard, I am not writing in a predictable manner, or telling this story in a purely chronological order. Heck, I wasn’t even certain it was Christmas morning until the third or fourth person that I met today wished me a Merry Christmas. And then, like a snowball off Mt Erebus, it grew. And they all said it. I said it. It became real and still feels warm and genuine. Everyone here realizes what we have given up to be here, doing this work, and being far from home. We share a type of kinship that I didn’t expect to find. Scientist, Soldiers, Air Force and Environmentalist, pilots and penguin lovers…we all are recognizing the common loss for this holiday with our families. It warms us all, just a touch, to say the simple thing that unites us. Merry Christmas.
I hope you are all warm and safe and dry, as am I. We are almost all off duty for today, and most have tomorrow off as well, so the celebration will continue through the next few hours. I have just finished dinner in the Galley, and what an amazing feast they prepared for us. Steak and Lobster. Garlic mashed potatoes. A multitude of veggies, rice, salads, rolls and cheeses…I have been constantly impressed with the success of our Galley crew, but they have outdone themselves tonight. Table clothes, and Christmas trees. All the decorations that have been added to day after day for the last week. Carolers and Birthday songs…yes, I found out that December 25th was not only the birthday of the famous Jesus of Nazareth, but of guy named Floyd and a girl named Jenna from…well, McMurdo Base, Antarctica. I haven’t actually met either of them yet, but on this small of a facility it is inevitable that I will meet them at some point. So of course, I sang them Happy Birthday with the whole Galley filling in the chorus.
I am repeatedly pleased by the camaraderie that this place instills in people. I have no problem asking for directions, or feeling embarrassed about something I don’t know how to do. I ask, and someone knows the answer. These people are, and I find myself becoming, the perfect coworker: Non-judgmental, and happy to get involved in the solving of problems. In the line for the Christmas dinner, I was standing next to 3 of the scientists who are from the University of Colorado, studying the atmosphere and the Chemical analysis of whatever is in it. Admittedly, some of what they had to say was way over my head, but they were all smiles and happy to talk about their trip to Antarctica. One of them was a first timer, like me, and had only just arrived earlier this week. He still has his Nikon strung around his neck, and has the slightly glazed look in his eyes that I can only hope has left my own.
Tomorrow I am off work again. But I will most likely spend a good portion of my day helping to clean up the Vehicle Maintenance Facility. We had an excellent party last night with a lot of dancing and silliness. Photos with Santa, and of course the bar was working furiously. The Galley had sent food and deserts over, as well as staff to handle the tables, so it was a huge success for all involved. I stayed a little after the last dance to help clean up, but there were so many people pitching in I didn’t feel compelled to stay. I knew that the bulk of the work could wait, so I headed back to the dorm to socialize and relax.
Andy Martinez, my good friend who introduced me to this Antarctic Program, and helped me in many ways to get here in the first place, made it to McMurdo just yesterday afternoon. He caught up with me at the party last night and it was great to see him. He had just flown back from the South Pole, and was visiting with the many people he has known through his years of service for the USAP. We had much to catch up on, and talked quite a bit. I will always be indebted to him, and it seemed somehow appropriate to be with him on such a Happy Holiday when I have so much to be thankful for.
With that in mind, I hope all of you who are at your homes this Christmas take a moment to hug the person next to you and say thanks. Be as grateful for them this coming year as you have been happy to be with them this past year. I highly recommend it.
Merry Christmas Every One !!