KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - U.S. and NATO soldiers at bases in Bagram and Kabul woke up to a white Christmas as more than 6 inches of snow fell in central Afghanistan by midday Monday.
Soldiers wearing red Santa hats and even a couple dressed as elves walked around Camp Eggers — the main U.S. base in Kabul — entertaining troops, some of whom were packing fresh snowballs and launching them at each other.
"The white Christmas definitely makes me feel at home, actually," said Navy Master Chief Ozzie Nelson, who now lives in San Diego with his wife and five kids but spent winters growing up in the Rochester, N.Y., area.
More than 50 soldiers attended a Christmas-day church service at Eggers, where they sang traditional Christmas hymns.
"Most of us would rather be home," said Maj. Andrew Harewood, the U.S. Army chaplain leading the service. "It's not that we're unpatriotic, but there's something about this time of year that makes us want to be with family."
Soldiers were treated with stocking-stuffer handouts and a special Christmas meal of roast beef, turkey, stuffing and shrimp cocktail. Decorations on the camp included a sleigh and reindeer and a mini Santa's village.
Nelson said that despite being away from family and holiday traditions, the base seemed more cheerful.
"People go out of their way, they say hi, they're wishing you a Merry Christmas," he said. "There's been times throughout the last couple months when they put blinders on and just focus on their job, but today they're stopping, they're reflecting and they're actually giving back, giving a greeting, saying hi and hello."
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