Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas Photos

No, not photos of my Christmas (you'll have to talk to my brother about those), but photos from a friend's family Christmas in the States. Obviously, I won't post them here, but rest assured they are what one expects from Midwestern American Christmas pictures. A properly-decorated tree, a room full of presents, various states of excitement in the kids, etc.

The interesting thing is that I asked my friend to send me some photos because some of my guys had been asking me about Christmas. They are of course aware of the holiday, and aware that it is (traditionally) a Christian holiday. Some even know the basic story behind it (baby, wise men, guiding star, etc.).*

*Although they seem puzzled by the idea that a baby born in the stables could somehow be important. In a nation full of people of humble beginnings, they still look slightly put out when they learn that Christ was allegedly born next to a donkey. One even asked me if there were pigs in the stable, preumably because pigs are considered unclean under Muslim tradition. No, I don't think so, I said, but I'm not sure he believed me.

They were however, deeply impressed with the variety and volume of presents that the children of this particular family received.* They were also intrigued by the TV in the background of one of the shots. "Is it plasma? Is it HD? Does he have one in every room?" For the record, it appeared to be a standard American TV set, and it's not like Afghans are unfamiliar with TV. They just think that Americans have more and better TVs than most (which is probably true).

*And I think it's fair to say that my friend's family is not overly lavish at Christmas. Sure, the kids get some good stuff, but not anymore than most kids at this time of year.

By far the most important topic of conversation upon viewing the photos was the children themselves. You see, this particular friend has three boys (a great strain on their mother, I'm sure). In a male-dominated society, boys are particularly prized as children and several of my guys remarked that my friend must be particularly blessed by Allah. Not bloody likely that Allah had anything to do with, I thought, but of course I kept that sentiment to myself.

P.S. One Afghan even asked, somewhat furtively, if the woman in one of the pictures (my friend's wife) was married. He's in the market for a bride, and apparently looking farther afield than his own clan. I told him that she was already married. He was visibly disappointed.

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