Milly Recalls Christmas 1941

October 6

Steamship Evacuation Office

Steamship Evacuation Office

“I had thought I would have none of the customary ‘Christmas Spirit’ that to me had been associated with snow, cold and evergreens. Within a short time, however, I was thrilled to see the beautiful poinsettia plants burst into color. Friends assured me that ‘Christmas Trees’ would arrive from the States and that I must start my Christmas shopping because the last ship which could carry our gifts back home in time for Christmas would leave the latter part of November.

So it happened that on that fateful Sunday, December 7, 1941, our gifts and cards were already out to sea. Along with all the wild rumors of that day, it was reported that the ‘Christmas Ship’ had been sunk, so it was a pleasant relief to learn later that the ship had docked safely. I was rather surprised to realize that it meant so much to most of us that our gifts and greetings to others be delivered when we had no idea what might be in store for us or what kind of Christmas we might have.

Actually we were packed and ready to be sent home whenever our turn would come, but nevertheless thankful for every day that we could stay. All wives of men in the service knew that it might be months and years before they saw their husbands again. Although the men were manning their posts at sea and on the beaches, it was possible to see them occasionally.

I was living with a new bride who had made elaborate plans for her first Christmas tree in her new home. The trees did not arrive, so by elaborate deception and decoration the hall tree was drafted for the purpose. Somewhere we discovered a small artificial electrically lighted Christmas tree. It adorned the mantle and could only be lighted during the daylight hours because of blackout regulations.

Some packages did arrive from the States and never knowing just what the future would bring we decided to celebrate Christmas on the twenty-second when Lorne came in. So the three of us exchanged gifts, opened packages, and carried on with the Christmas spirit even though fear was ever present with us. The day did not matter. We were still together, unharmed.

On Christmas Day my friend went to visit relatives and on the chance that Lorne might possibly get in I prepared a complete Christmas dinner. Susan took her nap, and Lorne did not get in. I had dinner alone. It could have been a sad affair, but it was not. I felt that I was lucky and that I was truly thankful for what I had and what I had been spared. Later that day Lorne got to a field phone in time to wish me a ‘Merry Christmas’. My most unusual Christmas was complete.”

  • Susan Ward Jurries

    We still have the little green electric bulb Christmas tree! And though its plastic green needles are quite ruffled after almost 70 years, we have put it out as part of Christmas decorations each year!

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