Christmas Thoughts for 2006

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-A Genealogist's Christmas Eve

-A Different Christmas Poem

-The Christmas Tree That Giggled

-The Longest Christmas

-The Christmas Truce of 1914

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A Genealogist's Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.

 

The dining room table with clutter was spread,

With pedigree charts and with letters which said…

 

"Too bad about the data for which you wrote,

Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

 

Stacks of old copies of wills and such,

were proof that my work had become much too much.

 

Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

 

And I at my table was ready to drop,

From work on my album with photos to crop.

 

Christmas was here, and of such was my lot,

That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

 

Had I not been so busy with grandparents' wills,

I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills.

 

While others had bought gifts that would bring Christmas cheer,

I'd spent time researching those birthdates and years.

 

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,

A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.

 

Away to the window I flew in a flash,

Tore open the drapes and I yanked up the sash.

 

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.

 

Up to the housetop the reindeer they flew,

With a sleigh full of toys, and 'ole Santa Claus, too.

 

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof ,

The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.

 

The TV antenna was no match for their horns,

And look at our roof with hoof-prints adorned.

 

As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,

Down the cold chimney fell Santa - KER-RASH!

 

Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,

And tracked soot on the carpet (I could wring his short neck!).

 

Spotting my face, good old Santa could see

I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree.

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings (I felt like a jerk).

 

Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy,

And I'd been too busy for even one toy.

 

He spied my research on the table all spread

"A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!)

 

“Tonight I've met many like you,” Santa grinned,

As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

 

I gazed with amazement - the cover it read

"Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead."

 

"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug,"

He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

 

While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,

I do some research in the North Pole Library!"

 

"A special treat I am thus able to bring,

To genealogy folks who can't find a thing."

 

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest,

I'll clean up the house of this genealogy mess."

 

As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,

I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

 

While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle,

To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.

 

And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,

"Family History is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"

 

Author unknown—contributed by Rob & Wanda Erwin

of  Hazel, Kentucky.

 

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A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the  sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in  rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming  the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree  I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by  love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, and started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was  near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and  tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a  Marine, huddled there in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my  child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it's freezing out there!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away  from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all  right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.
It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the  darkest of times.”

“No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December.”
Then he sighed, “That's a Christmas Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of  'Nam,
And now it is my turn  and so, here I am.”

“I've not seen my own son in more  than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her  smile.”
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The  red, white, and blue... an American flag.
“I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my  home.”

“I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I  can sleep in a foxhole with little to  eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my  life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not  fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all  right.”
“But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your  wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and  we bled.
That’s payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction  Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell  One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Christmas will be soon be upon us, and credit is due to our
U.S. service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Please ask people stop and think about our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

Let's try, in this small way, to pay a tiny bit of what we owe.       -Editor

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The Christmas Tree That Giggled

 By Verna Abernathy Erwin

 

In a tall stately forest at the edge of town,
Grew a small pine tree who was a funny little clown.

Over the least little thing, he'd laugh and he'd giggle.
Wrapping his boughs round his front, he'd shake and he'd giggle.
The thing in his life he wanted most of all,

Was to be a Christmas tree so bright and so tall.

Slowly the Christmas tree season began to draw near,

And he laughed all inside and it was quite clear…

That he thought he'd be chosen the very first thing.

 

 

He waved his boughs round as if he had wings,

He was so happy, he'd giggle and bend slightly over,

He wasn't very pretty all curved like a clover.

So people passed him right by and took other trees,

And soon he grew lonely and sad as could be.

He no longer laughed and tears ran down his limbs,

And he wondered and wondered why no one chose him!

When he stopped all his giggling, he began to stand straight.

He stood there so stiff and began his long wait…

 

On Christmas Eve night, a group of men came around,

He felt them chop into him…freeing him from the ground.

The next thing he knew, he was placed in a Chapel,

All decorated with bright ornaments…round, just like apples.
On top of his head. a bright star they placed…

With glitter and tensile, his boughs they were laced.

Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus were placed near by.

And the sight was so pretty, it brought many a sigh.

That night at the Service, the tree looked about…

He was so happy and glad he wanted to shout.

He fought off his giggles, but it was no use,

His boughs began to wiggle and some of his ornaments came loose.

 

A little girl there whispered softly to her Mommy…

"The Christmas tree is laughing and holding on to its tummy!"

Some said it was a draft that caused the tree to sway…

But we know it was happiness that had to give way.

If you children will be good and turn out the light,
Perhaps you'll hear your tree giggle on Christmas Eve Night.

You know what I think he will probably say?
"Merry Christmas
to everyone on this Blessed Day!!"

 

 

 

 

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The Longest Christmas

The Christmas trimmings had been up for three days, and the little old lady was sitting by the window, patiently waiting and day-dreaming.

 

Tomorrow the holidays would begin, and that was the day her three sons, all servicemen, were due home. This was to be the best Christmas of all for her. It had been many a year since she had the entire family together. This would be the first since that day six years ago when they had all met at the father's death bed.

 

Oh, what a joy this was for her! She couldn't afford many gifts, nor expensive ones, but she managed to find some small things for each of her sons. She wasn’t expecting much in return. She knew that servicemen’s wages were low. It was enough for her just to have them home.

 

 She wondered about their being able to get leave all at the same time. Did the Air Force and Navy have some special rule or something permitting such things? Or was it pure luck on the part of the brothers? She wasn’t going to fret. That was the government’s worry. She was satisfied, however it came about.

 

She wished time didn’t drag so. The day was taking so long to pass. It was as if old Father Time was bent on tormenting her.

 

Somewhere in back a door opened, and two men, dressed in white, entered. They both  strode down the hall, stopped at her door, peeked in, and moved on.

 

"Sam", whispered the older, "five years ago this December that poor lady received a message from the War Department that read:

 

Dear Madam:

The President of the United States regrets to inform you that your three sons, Nathaniel, Gerald, and Ronald Meadors, USAF, were lost when their plane, on a routine mission, exploded…

 

That telegram broke her heart and warped her mind. That's why she was committed to this institution. Every year now she decorates her room, buys small gifts, and futilely awaits their return.''                                   

Contributed by Vernon Garrison

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

 

The "Christmas Truce" is a term used to describe the brief unofficial cessation of hostilities that occurred between German and British troops stationed on the Western Front of World War 1  during the Christmas of 1914.

 

“Cousin” Garth Brooks describes it in his 1997 song Belleau Wood, and the National World War 1 Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, has an exhibition for it. Yet the 1914 truce—one of history’s most heart-warming Christmas stories—remains mostly forgotten, especially in America.

 

The unofficial Christmas truce of 1914, just over four months after hostilities commenced in the First World War, remains shrouded in myth. But the episode, which war historians call "...perhaps the best and most heartening Christmas story of modern times," really happened.

 

Concentrated in Flanders in Belgium, this spontaneous outbreak of peace, entirely uncoordinated, spread quickly along a large portion of the five-hundred-mile Western Front in Belgium and parts of France. Nobody is quite sure where exactly it began, but most accounts have the initiative coming from the German side of the trenches.

 

It is a German custom to celebrate Christmas in the evening of December 24. That first Christmas of the Great War was no exception. German soldiers were singing Christmas carols, some of which (such as Silent Night, Holy Night, or Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht) were familiar to their British counterparts. Taken aback by this curious behavior, British officers ordered that no shots were to be fired, but that the situation was to be monitored.

 

British soldiers responded to the German singing with carols of their own. This was then followed by exchanges of greetings across the trenches. In some frontline areas, German soldiers invited their enemies to come over to their side for a visit. Gradually and cautiously the Allied troops accepted the invitations. Both sides used the pause in  fighting to recover wounded and bury the dead. Proper burials took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respects. At one funeral in No Man's Land, soldiers from both sides gathered and read a passage from the23rd Psalm:

 

"The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

 

German & English soldiers fraternize - Christmas 1914

Most modern accounts of the Truce finish with the soldiers returning to their trenches and then fighting again the next day, but interviews with veterans indicated that in many areas the peace lasted much longer, even past New Year’s Day. It is a fact, however, that in all wars since 1914, no such truce has occurred between combatants. What a shame.   »»»

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