Still others filed into the airfield chapel for Catholic and Protestant services led by the top military chaplains in the Canadian Forces. It's looking like Christmas in Kandahar - however without a speck of snow in sight, Canadian troops say it just doesn't quite feel like it.
Christmas trees and colourful lights have been popping up across Kandahar Airfield and at military bases throughout the province in the lead up to the holidays.
Carols, festive fare, dance parties, and king can beer rations have even been plentiful this Christmas Eve.
Sitting at his observation post high over Panjwaii District, in Kandahar province,
Pte. James Arnal reads a Christmas card sent to him.
"I must say it started getting harder (the day before Christmas Eve)," the Capt. Patrick Hannan, Sorel, Que., resident said as he and fellow soldiers accepted a gift of some $70,000 worth of hockey equipment donated by a Calgary-based sporting-goods company.
"Once your family starts moving around and celebrating and you're all alone here, before that the morale was pretty good but now that it's Christmas Eve and the family is celebrating, it's hard."
It's difficult spending Christmas without family. It's difficult sitting in a church listening to Christmas carols without shedding a tear, walking in a store and hearing "I'll be Home for Christmas", unwrapping gifts and wondering how your loved one is doing overseas.. if he or she is enjoying their Christmas care package sent with care and love. You miss them at dinner when their place is sitting empty - yet raise a glass of cheer in their honour and bow your heads and pray for them. Since we can't pick up the phone to call them, we wait and when that phone rings with that distinctive number that has now become familiar at this point of the tour... we become overjoyed - we welcome their voices, send our love and wishing them a them a Merry Christmas - yet yearn to hug them.