In your last letter, you worried that because I'm so far from home, I won't have a "real" Christmas this year. You'll be pleased to learn that the station has been awash with Christmas festivities. Someone in the EA Cultural Affairs Office decided that as part of Babylon 5's cultural exchange program, the different worlds represented by embassies here should take turns staging typical holiday celebrations in which everyone on board is invited to participate. As you'll see from the accompanying holographs, Earth Alliance has led the way by holding a series of traditional events in anticipation of Christmas.
So far the big highlight of the Christmas festival has been the Christmas Pageant in which several members of the diplomatic corps helped stage an abridged version of Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." I don't know how Captain Sheridan (my C.O. and the Earth Alliance ambassador) talked them into it, but the production was a great success.
[HOLOGRAPH #1] The fellow dressed up as Ebeneezer Scrooge is Ambassador G'Kar from the Narn Regime. He inserted some hilarious ad libs about "enlightened self-interest" into Scrooge's speeches. The Earther playing Marley's Ghost is a war vet named Amis who lives here on the station. His Marley scared the daylights out of everybody.
[HOLOGRAPH #2] Here are the Three Spirits who visited Scrooge on Christmas Eve. From left to right, they're the Ghost of Christmas Past (Ambassador Delenn from the Minbari Federation), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Ambassador Londo Mollari from the Centauri Republic), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Ambassador Kosh Naranek from the Vorlon Empire). The scenes between Scrooge and Christmas Present seemed a little tense, but Scrooge's scenes with the other two went okay. The scenes with Christmas Future had *terrific* sound effects.
[HOLOGRAPH #3] That's Captain Sheridan in his Bob Cratchit outfit. I wanted to get a picture of him with Tiny Tim, but when Commander Ivanova saw me aiming my holocamera, she brandished her crutch and threatened to use my skull as a croquet ball. (It's a Russian thing, I guess.) The rumor is that Captain Sheridan had to pull rank on her to get her to take the part, and that she had more fun with it than she was willing to admit. Whatever the case, she limped convincingly.
[HOLOGRAPH #4] This was taken at the Christmas party that Captain Sheridan threw for diplomatic staff, EF officers, and other invited guests. As you can see, we even had a Santa Claus wm the guests could ask for presents. That's Ambassador Mollari sitting on his lap. (Ooof!) The civilian they got to play Santa struck me as a little thin for the job, even with the padding inside his costume, but he really got into the part. It looked to me like he could ask people, "What do you want?" all day long.
[HOLOGRAPH #5] The woman you see here is Talia Winters, who works as a commercial telepath in Psi Corps. The fellow just behind her is Michael Garibaldi, the Security Chief for the station. This shows them when he suggested that she should have played Santa Claus because she's the one "who really knows who's been naughty or nice."
[HOLOGRAPH #6] This is Chief Garibaldi gasping for breath just after Ms. Winters' elbow hit him in the stomach.
[HOLOGRAPH #7] This is one of the buffet tables at the party. As you can see, the Captain put out a good spread. (An awful lot of fruitcake, though!) There had been some concern about the food for the party when word got out that Dr. Franklin was on the refreshments committee, but for once he wasn't so strict about "nutritional values."
[HOLOGRAPH #8] This is Vir, Ambassador Mollari's attache, sampling the egg nog. There had been a rumor that they were going to have to spike the egg nog with Zima, but somehow the staff came up with some genuine Jamaican rum. When I asked where it came from, the waiter serving the egg nog, a fellow named Orwell, just smiled.
[HOLOGRAPH #9] Thisis Vir, several cups of egg nog later, trying to string some Christmas tree lights on Ambassador Kosh. I'm told he apologized profusely the next morning.
[HOLOGRAPH #10] Lately Ambassador Delenn has taken a keen interest in Earth customs, and Chief Garibaldi enjoyed explaining our Christmas traditions to her. I took this hologram when she asked about the mistletoe hung from one of the overhead lights, and he offered to demonstrate its use with the next woman who walked under it.
[HOLOGRAPH #11] This is Ambassador G'Kar's attache, Na'Toth, walking under the mistletoe.
[HOLOGRAPH #12] This is Chief Garibaldi explaining to Ambassador Delenn that he has to wait for an Earthwoman to walk under the mistletoe because both participants have to know the tradition.
[HOLOGRAPH #13] This is Commander Ivanova walking under the mistletoe.
[HOLOGRAPH #14] This is Chief Garibaldi suddenly excusing himself from Ambassador Delenn in order to rush off and attend to a security matter that he said had slipped his mind.
[HOLOGRAPH #15] The Minbari delegation really made an effort to get into the spirit of the holiday. This is Lennier, Ambassador Delenn's attache, leading a Minbari chorus in some traditional Christmas carols. They did a good job with the music, but they had an occasional bit of trouble with English pronunciation. Can you imagine listening to a dozen verses of "The Twelve Days of *Chrysalis*"?
[HOLOGRAPH #16] The Minbari were also the first to take up Captain Sheridan's suggestion that the diplomatic staffs put up traditional decorations at the entrances to their suites. This is the Christmas tree that the Minbari decorated. It's not a real spruce--there are too few in The Garden for the Captain to have allowed any to be cut down--but the Minbari decked it out with so many colorful ornaments that you could hardly tell the tree was artificial. I don't know why they didn't mount a star at the top, but the triangular thingamagig they used instead put on one heckuva light show.
[HOLOGRAPH #17] These are the two trees displayed outside the Drazi ambassadorial suite. I have no idea why they spray-painted one purple.
[HOLOGRAPH #18] Instead of trees, the Centauri expressed interest in hanging Christmas stockings as decorations. Because their quarters don't have fireplaces, they had no fireplace mantels from which to hang the stockings, so they mounted them on their doorways instead. This is the door to Ambassador Mollari's apartment; I don't know why he put up *six* stockings instead of one.
[HOLOGRAPH #19] This is Ambassador G'Kar filling Ambassador Mollari's six Christmas stockings with lumps of coal.
[HOLOGRAPH #20] This is the entrance to Ambassador Kosh's suite. As you can see, there are no decorations outside the suite, but there has been been a rumor that *inside* the suite is an elaborate decorative scheme based upon an "Angel of Light" theme. Trouble is, the Ambassador won't let anyone see it! (At least I think that's the case. There was another rumor that Ambassador Delenn had been in to see it, but when Captain Sheridan asked her about it, she just smiled and said nothing.)
So, all in all, it looks like we're going to have a Very Merry Christmas here on Babylon 5. There's a lot going on, but I'll try to write again soon. Enjoy the holidays!