Christmas Letter from Germany, 1944

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Author’s Note: This letter was sent by my father, John Franklin Cook (1909 – 1955) to my mother, Helen Thomas Cook (1916-1999). Postmarked Dec 30, 1944, it was received in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb 12, 1945.

Germany
Noon Christmas Day, 1944

Merry Christmas Darling!

And to all my three daughters a happy one. I thought of all of you through the long Xmas eve night and just had to dig out this scrap of paper and say it to you even though it will be late getting there.

I’m sitting in the uncovered part of my hole and the sun is shining on the snow. “White Christmas” is a nice song but not for outdoor living.

We argued yesterday about whether it was Christmas Eve or not and finally found out that it was. One person has said, “Merry Christmas” to me so far and I guess that’s all I’ll hear of it, but plenty goes on in my mind and I know that you will understand my longing to be with you at this time.

Just before dawn, I said a prayer for all the war’s sorrowful people, that their sorrows would be lessened, and that this mad killing would come to an end – and could go no further, not even a prayer for you and me. It was the first time I had cried in years and I felt calm and steady later, better than I had felt for days and weeks. There at dawn all the shelling ceased for the first time since coming here, and an amazing, peaceful, stillness came and lasted for several minutes, with the twitter of a bird in the distance the only living sound.

Later, at sunrise, the same thing happened and lasted for almost an hour and the morning has been comparatively quiet.

So that is Christmas at the front, with frozen meat and beans and vegetables, canned stew for dinner. There is a rumor that we each get a turkey sandwich after dark, but we’re not sure.

Don’t feel too bad about it, though, ’cause we will sure make up for it next year, won’t we, Sugar?

Excuse the paper. I put it on my pack with my mess gear and it is dirty and damp. (So is the envelope and so am I. I’m dirty enough, anyway.)

Please send me a box of food. Crackers, cheese, peanut butter mixed with honey, etc. cookies and candy, too, but no hard candy, and that’s an official request.

"Christmas Letter from Germany 1944" by Nancy HC Ward (CatholicMom.com)

PFC John Franklin Cook in 1945. Photo courtesy of Nancy HC Ward. All rights reserved.

And last of all, I love you dearly, with all the ability of my heart and mind. Keep your same sweet self for me and for my return—how soon I don’t know, but am hoping and praying that it is soon.

As ever,
Johnny


Copyright 2017 Nancy HC Ward

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About Author

Nancy Ward writes and speaks about Catholicism, her conversion and Christian community at JoyAlive.net, plus 7 websites and magazines. She loves to tell her faith story to Catholic groups and help others tell theirs. Her "Sharing YOUR Faith Story, a three-part seminar for evangelization," is available live or DVD. She contributed to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion.

13 Comments

  1. Oh what a beautiful letter you’ve shared with us, Nancy! Your father was an eloquent, thoughtful writer. I could imagine all of his descriptions. I hope he indeed was home the next Christmas with you and your family. Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I’m so glad you were inspired by my dad so many decades after he wrote this to my mom. Would that we all could leave a token of our faith to inspire others after we are gone.

  3. What an exceptional, beautiful letter, Nancy! I read it in tears, shared it with my family (not a dry eye) and have shared it with our large homeschool network, as well as my extended family. I will keep and treasure this letter for a very long time. I hope you’re going to publish a book of his letters. I would buy it and share it widely.

  4. I also shared this letter with my family. For what it’s worth, I’m going to go ahead and “third” this request for a book! If there are not many remaining, perhaps you could scout out some other love letters from WWII veterans? Or Christmas letters from these men? That would make such a beautiful book. Let us know if you need other letters – I’m sure my family could dig up some to help & others could as well I’m sure!

    • Wonderful ideas, Kaitlyn!
      Nancy, if you decide to do this, let me know! My mom still has her wartime letters from my dad, from the Viet Nam war. I think some of it is too spicy to publish, but they are from a faithful, devout man and could be edited to suit.
      Blessings of Christmas!
      Lisa

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