December 24th, 2009
12:39 PM ET

Decorating a Christmas tree in Kabul

Just a few days left till Christmas. Thanks to the efforts of CNN's Fred Pleitgen, Tim Schwarz and Claudia Otto, we have a Christmas tree in our bureau.

Now it's our turn to bring some joy of the season to the bureau's gloomy sitting room. Surprisingly we find Christmas decorations in a local store. The choice is not huge. For a moment we debate over a Santa paper cutout or the big banner announcing the season to be jolly, but at the end we decide on a lower-key affair. We leave the store with sets of baubles, a few trinkets and two sets of lights.

Back at the bureau, the tree Fred sawed down was propped against a wall. Next to it was a red plastic bucket filled with water. Why the tree was not in the bucket? Have you ever tried to balance a Christmas tree in a bucket of water without the aid of a tree stand? As it turned out it was a bit of a challenge.

Watch as bureau staffers find and decorate the tree

Gaffers tape! There is nothing you can't attach with a bit of gaffers tape. As I taped the tree to the bucket, Atia Abawi grabbed a camera. This is going to be great for BackStory, she proclaimed.

Next came the decorations. This was a job for two. So we locked the camera onto a tripod and began decorating. First up were the two sets of lights, then larger baubles followed by smaller ones and a few trinkets to top it all off. The only thing remaining was to plug the lights into the socket and turn them on. Our hearts almost sunk when it turned out that one of the light chains did not work. We stood there looking disappointed.

So what now? We debated for a while whether it's possible to actually take off the broken light chain from the tree. At the end we did, and the next day we replaced it with a new one. All done and another BackStory ready for editing.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Chand

    Love Your Christmas Tree! 🙂

    January 2, 2010 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nia Jusuf

    Simple Christmas tree but full with Christmas spirit, that's the way to go!
    Merry Christmas to you all!

    December 29, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Russell Cavallaro

    Inayat, while your comment is factual and very helpful in spelling out the differences between Islam and Christianity, the one point that you do get wrong is the claim that "Our God" and "Their God" are the same. For Jews, Christians, and Muslims, there is only one god, commonly referred to as the Abrahamic God, after Abraham. However, Hindus worship multiple gods, and are not within what is commonly referred to as "[Abrahamic] God's Kingdom."Atheists, on the other hand, do not believe in any gods, and go so far as to say that there are no gods. As far as I'm concerned, we will never know whether or not there are gods or supernatural beings.

    December 24, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Todd (sacramento)



    December 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Inayat

    In response to Steve Hill's comment:

    Well, the God of Islam is Ever-Living and never dies! Whereas Jesus (PBUH) was and is a mortal human being who was raised up into the heavens by the Almighty God (Allah). He will be sent back to the world in the end-times to complete his life on earth and then will die a as any normal human being would.

    Further, the God of Islam is the same Almighty God of all mankind – including Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists and whatever. So there is nothing such as "Our God" and "their God".

    It would be worthwhile to read a translation of the meaning of the Koran to get an understanding of the divergent views of Islam and Christiantity about prophet Jesus (peace be upon him).

    December 24, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Soma Patnaik

    Hi, nice to read your Christmass decoration. Its truly elegant. You know, you can erect the tree like this too:

    make the tree stand straight up (erected) in the empty bucket by two peple holding it. Make sure that the tree is perfectly straight before proceeding with further steps. Now add gravels till 3/4 th of the bucket is filled. Now add sand to fill the holes between gravels. This will definitely hold the tree straight without any further manual assistance. Now add water into the bucket to keep the tree moist.
    Wish this will help...
    Best wishes and Merry Christmass.

    December 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve Hill

    I think it is wonderful that you have a real tree during Christmas in Kabul. I have been there quite a few times since 911. The Afghan people are so interested in our Western Culture and many have various posters, pictures etc.. of the US and its people. I have stayed and traveled throughout Afghanistan with my Afghan partners and never once did I think of a Christmas tree.

    Many have asked me about Christianity and our beliefs vs theirs. They say both in Afghanistan and other Muslim countires, including Iran, Turkey and Iraq, that they have the Koran and some either have the Old and New Testament and understand the difference between Muhammad and Jesus. They do believe and know about Mary and the Christmas Child. They also know that their God nover rose from the dead where Jesus did!

    I hope you have had the opportunity to travel about with the General public and have gone into the forest or mountains to really understand Afghans.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

    December 24, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Craig

    If you need to stand a tree in a bucket, have someone hold it in place vertically, while a 2nd person fills the bucket with rounded river rock about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Make sure the tree is vertical, because once the bucket is filled, it's not easy to adjust the angle of the tree, but that's what makes it such a solid tree stand. Just pour water into teh bucket with teh rocks, and you're good to go. No duct tape needed.

    December 24, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |