Soldier's First Christmas Far from Home
On Christmas Eve, 1944, my father wrote his family:
. . . I say Folks, you sure did grand by your serviceman for Christmas - as I put in my letter night before last - I haven't felt at all like Christmas until I started opening your boxes. Had received no other ones but youse up until the time I left yesterday. I surely owe my Christmas spirit and all the pleasure I derived from what you sent me to your foresight in sending things a little early and to your good sense in packing things - that special handling deal slows things up but I'm sure that that was one of the main reasons I got things so intact. Some of the fellows received boxes - candy and eats which were packed in 3 or 4 separate boxes and even at that had been opened, sampled, and tampered with. I wonder if I'll ever get Keough's or Beal's or Ott's boxes.
Now to those other items which bring back days when I took them for granted - the pajamas and slippers - my dears they are perfectly elegant and just what a fellow would want down here however in my present position I find that are not practicable as I would wish, for example, I have no place where I can conveniently keep them - I'd have to stow P.J.s in barracks bag for I wouldn't be permitted to hang them up somewhere. Also the fine fanciness of them which is their finest feature would vanish beyond recognition after one trip to the G.I. laundry. In Yuma where I didn't need them I would have taken a chance on their laundry service but I've never seen the equal of the mayhem that is committed on clothes here. I can manage O.K. in my shorts to sleep in. I can change these each day since I still have 3 Jockey shorts and have accumulated 6 of G.I. issue - the P.J.s would become musty in a day or 2 in a barracks bag - they are too nice to wear and then ruin after one washing anyway. So I'm sure Haroola can get the good of them. I do hope you can get credit for the slippers - they would also be ruined in short order here or at camp and frankly, they are too much bother to tote around. The barracks floor is more like an alleyway at times than a floor - if I need slippers I use my shower sandals or my civilian shoes. If we dressed in combat as we do here I'd take them with me for warmth under my flying boots but we will be issued electronically heated suits - also you need G.I. shoes on in case you'd have to bail out so I'll send them back in hopes that they have not been paid for as yet. In a couple weeks I hope to be imposing on you anyway again, as soon as I find out what I'll be able to get away with at the staging area - have you got a spare shoe stamp?
As I said previously, the tree took the cake - ah tis a darlin. I was afraid to leave it up while I was away - you can't buy anything for a tree here and I feared some permanent party Joe would steal the whole business so I took her down before leaving yesterday and wrapped everything in the box and gave it to my Tail Gunner for he and his wife to have over Christmas. He was tickled pink - they live in a trailer (Govt. issued) outside camp and I know are having a hell of a time making the grade and I felt someone should get some pleasure from it if I couldn't. He'll return it Tuesday when I can look at it some more. It was a swell thought folks and the only touch of Christmas we had in the barracks. Have run out of paper here so if I've left out anything you can be sure it will get mention anon - all boxes arrived in best of order and you two made my first Christmastime away from home far better than I thought it could be.
Lotsa Love, Frank