WWII Letter Home
by John Norberg, humor columnist s

So it's finally here, after all the rush and hurry.

Christmas comes but once a year. If it came any more often, we'd split our time between the poor house and a rest home.

Among the Christmas memories my wife puts out every year is a letter written by my Uncle Cliff Benson. I always read it, although I know every sentence by heart. It slows me down. It puts me back in touch with the things that hold my life together.

The letter was written by Uncle Cliff to his wife, Sue, when he was an Army soldier somewhere in France, Christmas Day, 1944 -- 59 years ago today. He had just been pulled off the front lines.

Amid all the hustle and bustle, this holiday season isn't really about expensive gifts, parties or even great food, although I would especially hate to give up the great food.

This is the time of year to remember what each of us holds most dear: faith, family and home.

As I read this letter today I am reminded there are soldiers far away from home and family this Christmas, too.

"Dearest Darling, Merry Christmas and may God Bless you. I am feeling much better today, sweetheart. But I sure am very lonesome. It sure is tough for a fellow to be away from the one you love on Christmas. Of all the days in the year, Christmas is the hardest to take. You miss everyone so much on that day. The Army has done its best to make it nice for us. But sweetheart, it still does not compare with being home.

"Now, let me tell you how I've spent Christmas. Fred Lange and I went to the 3 rd Regiment to church. It was held in a warehouse that the Germans used to have. It was very cold, but the service was very nice. After church we walked three miles back to this camp. On the way back Fred and I stopped into a cafe and had a drink of cognac. We then walked the rest of the way home and waited for our dinner. It was a swell dinner. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, candy and coffee. We have a lot of different nationalities. We have French soldiers, Belgium, Polish. We were all sitting at the tables eating our dinner out of mess kits. Then we started to sing Christmas carols. Each group of different nations sang "Joy To The World" in their own language and then we sang it all together.

"That's the way I spent Christmas this year, darling. It's quite different from other years, but it was not so bad. Everyone was very lonesome. We said a prayer for all our loved ones at home and for all us fighting.

"Golly I'd give my right arm just to have you in my arms and hear you say, "I love you." It would be such sweet music to me darling. I'll just have to wait a few months for that, though.

"Well, this will be all for today. I love you very much, my darling and I am just waiting for the day when I'll see you. All my love to you, only, your loving Clifford."

This Christmas letter is a gift that will last forever.

Uncle Cliff got his Christmas wish. He came home. Our hope is that today's soldiers come home soon, too.

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