Christmas time in Antarctica is an interesting time. Random people making sweets after hours in the kitchen, everybody walking around in santa hats, and groups of christmas carolers walking around spreading christmas cheer everywhere they go; it’s an incredibly impressive sight. The community pulls together as a whole to make a bleak holiday away from their families as joyful as possible.
I grew up in a large community, with a couple thousand kids in my high school alone. Being in that large of a community was definitely nice since I met new people every day. On the flip side, the holidays in big towns can feel lonely sometimes. You don’t have random people spreading christmas cheer nearly as much compared to being in a smaller community. Most people are just going about their days to get money for their families during the holidays. It’s an interesting experience I probably wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.
I started off the holiday with a mid-rat Christmas party, which was everything you could hope for with a christmas party in Antarctica. Especially since we started out with watching Die Hard as our Christmas movie. Since I work out on the airfield here at McMurdo, I’m one of the only cooks that actually got Christmas off. It was weird having the day off when all my friends were working so I ended up helping out Baker Chris in the kitchen, making a profiterole tree out of cream puffs and caramel. Kudos to the kitchen staff, though. They sure made this holiday special with the meal they prepared for everyone over the last few days. After helping Chris, me and another mid-rat cook stayed up all night and watched every Christmas TV special we could think of in the theater room, drank hot cocoa, took naps to recuperate from an already long season of work, and got into a better spirit of the holidays I didn’t think was possible while being so far from home.
After staying up well after when I actually go to bed for the galley family meal before the chaos ensued, a group of us ended up taking food and presents to a coworker that was sick. After sleeping, I woke up for the Cook’s Festivus Party, of the Seinfeld variety. Complete with the Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength by the head of household RA of the building, the annual Festivus Pole, and the Festivus Meal that was made by Sam Mengel, one of our night cooks. What would the Festivus Meal have at it, you ask? It was mostly chicken quesadillas made on a small electric flat top grill Sam found in SKUA, our local second-hand-store. It was great, to say the least.
Everything I’ve done during this holiday season has been inspiring and gave me an incredible sense of community. Especially since my family took a family portrait with a caring note to me, making sure my Christmas holiday was topped off in the most special way possible. To everyone that made this holiday such a great one at the bottom of the world, I thank you.
Oh, and by the way. I met an Adelie Penguin. His name is Esteban.