Notes from the East 3
December: the temperature is below zero and it is snowing.
These words remind everyone about the winter holidays. Christmas, New Year’s Eve – for sure these are the most anticipated days for many people, and Ukrainians are no exception. As usual, people are in a hurry to buy presents, set up the Christmas tree, prepare delicious food and put it on the table. The whole world unites and rejoices at this time.
You might ask why I write this here? It’s obvious, but what about the soldiers? What about the people who stand on the frontline, in the trenches? The answer is simple. They have the same feelings and wishes as you. They are just in another situation, where shooting and shelling happens every day. And as they say, they say they must be there to stand for Ukraine, to stand for European values, to protect their land against Russian aggression.
The holiday spirit dwells on the frontline too. But not completely. And how can it be possible if, earlier this month for instance, half of the city of Avdiivka lost power because of damage to the electrical line caused by shell explosion. People hear and see “fireworks” almost every day, and have been living with PTS for three and a half years already. Regardless, they buy their Christmas trees, they make their presents, they buy food for the holiday table and try to forget about the current situation, at least during the holidays.
It looks so strange and awesome when you see soldiers building a festive atmosphere. Each position tries to find a small Christmas tree and set it up inside the trench shelter or fortified zone. They are decorated with toys, lights, bullets, and grenades. Yes, bullets and grenades. It has became a tradition, they say.
If you ask them what their wishes are for the coming year, they answer as one: greetings to their families, moms and dads, kids, wives, grandparents, and friends. You can feel how they miss them. Then they send wishes to Ukraine, Ukrainians, and people in general. Kindness, health, prosperity, love, happiness – there is the sense that this is what they are here for, fighting for.