To start with, our team leader agreed to close the office for a few hours so that the four of us teammates could all eat together for a change. Since the office is open 24/7 and someone is always sleeping this took some major coordination with the Tikrit Red Cross office covering our queue for life -threats or suicides and Kris, the true grave yard shift waking up in the middle of her "night" to eat with us. We drive out to eat at the BIAP Air Force DFAC (BIAP is Baghdad International Airport) because that DFAC has real silverware, china plates and booths. Can't ask for anymore in Iraq ;-)
After dinner with lots of lovely "chinking" sounds we drove straight back to the office and understandably there were half a dozen guys milling around the deck waiting for us to come back and open up. The ladies took me back to our little office and there they unveiled a substantial sheet cake that Greta had decorated with twizzlers and skittles. Greta and Kris each pulled out a lighter to serve as candles and after a little happy birthday serenade I made my wish on two lighters.
The cake actually had ingredients on it and mercifully it was nut free so for once I got to eat my birthday cake! After we cut ourselves huge pieces we cut more for all the guys in the office and then I put the rest of the cake out in the canteen. Greta and Kris had combined to buy me a beautiful marble chess board made in Iraq. At that point my shift had already begun and as a little present from above it was a relatively quiet night. I forbade anyone from dying on my birthday and for the most part everyone seemed to have received the memo.
After work I met up with another night shift worker from a brigade we work with and he gave me a really sweet gift. It ended up being a beautiful night so we stayed and chatted outside for several hours. I was treated to my own personal firework show (which was really the Blackhawks shooting preemptive flares but still... it was pretty)
And to top off my day I played volley ball with the med unit. It might not have been extravagant, or decorative or filled with wild partying but for Baghdad it was perfect.