Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas

This was a terrific Christmas. I was surrounded by my family and friends. Made out well in the gift department. Drank some wine, a little bourbon. I made a big fuss as I always do trying to achieve perfection for my family. That's the way I remembered Christmas growing up. Mom and Dad always made a fuss. Spent more than they could afford for their three boys. 

But every time the gifts were opened and the excitement had settled, my dad would invariably get maudlin. I never understood why. Then one Christmas, when he figured I was old enough to understand he tell me his Christmas story. It was the winter of 1944-45. They would later refer to it as the Battle of the Bulge. He was an infantryman in the 26th Infantry.  It was a desperate battle to relieve Bastogne.

He and two other fellows were placed in a pillbox on a snow-covered hill. Their sergeant told them to hold this position at all costs. Don't let anybody get past here. Cold and scared, it wasn't long before three Germans, cloaked in snow-capes, appeared out of the fog and ran up the hill. The three Americans opened up and quickly killed the enemy soldiers.  The three infantryman ran down the hill and rifled through the bodies looking for personal items as souvenirs. They took wallets, identity tags, Lugers. They were young kids. They returned to their pillbox. 

Dad looked at me, tears in his eyes and said, "And some German mother never knew what happened to her son." He never had a happy Christmas. I never spend a Christmas without thinking of that mother.

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