Christmas in July is a yearly tradition at the Pole. It occurs the weekend closest to July 25th, this year being on Sunday, July 23rd. The week before the celebration, volunteers decorate the galley with Christmas trees, lights, garland, and all other tacky Christmas decorations that you can think of. Kim spearheaded the efforts this year, and the galley looked great and well-lit.
A few days before Christmas in July, a group of us got together to decorate some sugar cookies in the galley.
|Cookie decorating! Turns out I suck at this.|
|Cookies. The ones I decorated have M&Ms clearly lined in a pattern or look like a small child attempted it.|
On the 23rd, Kim got up early to bake us all some continental Christmas brunch items. She was also kind enough to supply the station, with help from some donations, champagne for mimosas. Our plumber, Brian, took it upon himself to donate some spicy vodka for those who love Bloody Marys. For those of us who love Christmas, we spent the day in the galley watching a variety of Christmas movies. A Christmas Story is traditional and thus it was watched.
In the evening, Kim served Christmas dinner. Her dinner entailed some of the traditional dishes you would expect for Christmas in various parts of the country. Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, stuffing (she called it dressing?), and a sweet potato dish. I don't know much about sweet potatoes and marshmallows as I hail from the great area of the US that is New England. We don't exactly eat that there in my experience, but I'm sure the southern folks on station loved it. There was also a Christmas punch that, well, tasted like Christmas. It was some sort of vodka cranberry spiced punch that had hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.
After dinner, we began the Yankee swap (White Elephant for you heathens not from New England). While there were a few gifts that were homemade and Antarctica related that I wanted, I knew that my number was too early in the game for me to go after those coveted items. It was best that I strategize and go for something that's acceptable to me but also that I would not lose. I stole a bottle of Glenlivet then from our station doctor. It was a sure bet as that would be the last available steal for the gift. I figured that Jason would like the scotch so he could have it, and perhaps he could go for something that I wanted since his number was later in the game.
It worked out pretty well! He stole (for the final steal and again from Sarah - don't worry I apologized to her after for targeting her gifts) an original copy of a National Geographic issue about the South Pole. The issue was published sometime in the 1950s and is in beautiful condition. I really like flipping through it to see the advertisements from back then (oh yeah and the stories are cool too). There were some crackers and a candy bar in the box as well, but the real meat of the prize was that magazine. And, luckily, Sarah got a great gift that wasn't stolen from her in the end - a machined miniature version of our pole marker for next year. I unfortunately am not allowed to share photos of the marker until January 1, 2018 when the real deal is revealed.
As for other July shenanigans, I had a birthday at the beginning of the month. Birthdays at the Pole are starkly different from birthdays at Palmer. At Palmer, I remember the galley being decorated on the day of my bday with some Happy Birthday signs like the ones that you would see at children's birthday parties. Mike, our chef that winter, went above and beyond for me that day as well. I got to try some of his award winning cowboy coffee, and he cooked a Massachusetts-themed dinner (fisherman's platter) that, as usual, was delicious. My cake was an ice cream cake that looked like something out of a bakery. He made his own ice cream with Bailey's, Kahlua, coffee, etc. It was my 21st, hence the alcohol theme for his ice creams. I also was gifted a balloon, Sam Adams, and a signed card from the station that day. Some mystery dried fruit appeared from the recent ship's port call at the station so there really was a surprise gift that day.
At Pole, most of those things don't happen. I am going to wager a guess that it is because the population is full-time double that of Palmer, although at the time of my birthday at Palmer we had just around 40 people on station. Here, the galley crew were kind enough to make me something for dessert that may fit my fancy. I find cake to be putrid little sugar bombs so that was not what was made. They made a peanut butter mousse instead which certainly was able to calm my sweet tooth and peanut butter cravings. The whiteboard sign in the galley also said happy birthday. Dinner that night followed the menu and recipe as dictated by Denver, and there lies the largest difference from Palmer to Pole. I had an enjoyable and relaxing day. I slept early in the evening as I am always tired by the end of the week here, and I really can't complain about it too much.