Friday, February 15, 2008
For most people in Canada, Valentine’s Day is a time to unleash the hopeless romantic in all of us and do something out of the ordinary for that special someone in our lives. For others, it is nothing more than a hyped-up greeting card holiday meant to get consumers out of the winter blues and into their local retail outlets to spend, spend, spend.
Well, in Afghanistan, it is neither…we simply call it Thursday. I will admit that this year Valentine’s Day did not even make it onto my radar screen. Not even one forethought to send home so much as a romantic note. I wonder how that special someone in my life will react to such a faux pas on my part. However, in my own defence, I do have a valid excuse. In Afghanistan we do not have the luxury of those constant reminders that are present in greeting card shops and shopping malls in Canada beginning at the start of January. We don’t get the constant television commercials, radio spots or billboard advertisements reminding us to mark February 14th on our calendars. And even if we did, there is little that we could do about it. It isn’t as if Afghanistan is known for its heartfelt gifts that tend to make the ladies weak at the knees.
But I have another excuse for forgetting about the proverbial day of romance. I am in the midst of preparing to return home. In a very few short days, my replacement will arrive in theatre allowing me to gracefully make my departure shortly thereafter. I must admit, that this is constantly occupying my mind and all outside distractions such as holidays – whether real or imagined – simply do not make it to the conscience part of my mind. Other than preparing to return home, few other things really seem to matter. I am only focused on a date when my replacement’s plane lands in theatre and I am there to greet him at the door with welcoming arms.
Now, the actual date when he was set to arrive has changed on several occasions although the original date was set for February 14th. Although not meant to slight any of the past Valentine’s gifts that I have received, but truthfully, this would have been one of the best gifts that I have ever received. But, I am not sure how my replacement would feel knowing that his presence in Afghanistan ranks as one of my best Valentine’s Day gifts ever – but as his tour comes to an end in six or seven months from now, I am sure by then that he will understand. Now this is not to say that I would have been standing there with arms open and a bouquet of roses, but it is to say that at that point in time, there is probably nobody else I would be happier to see. Again, I am probably digging myself into a big hole!
In any event, his arrival has been delayed by a few days and so the post Valentine’s Day hype will likely have diminished enough that it will no longer be an issue. But as they say - better late than never. Despite the short delay and the notable absence of any romantic gestures at all, his arrival into theatre will still remain a very thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift on behalf of the Government of Canada and the Canadian Forces. And so for seven months I have managed to successfully dodge all bullets and other projectiles that may have been headed into my direction – including Cupid’s arrows.
Happy Valentine’s Day!