G.I. Christmas

Dear Mother and Dad:

It is late Christmas Eve. I've been to the U.S.O.,
Where we sang all the carols -
and Finklestein's Band put on a wonderful show.
But I hurried back to my own little bunk - to the annual rendezvous
With old Santa Claus - when we hang up our socks -
just as you did, and taught us to do
There's no open fireplace, no chimney for Nick,
no mantel to pin to at all;
But just for old times' sake I've pinned my big socks -
G.I. socks - up here on the wall
They look funny now - almost like bags
- disconsolate, empty you know;
But tonight, as I dream my pet dreams -
for you folks, and the Christmases of long ago,
They'll fill up to bursting, and then overflow,
transforming our bare barracks room
To a real Christmas wonderland -
two thousand miles from the war and its grimness and gloom.

The very first Christmas that I can remember
- lolly pop down in the toe;
A shiny blue ball - and a fuzzy wee dog,
who yipped when I squeezed him - so.
The next year a Ford truck in miniature;
a red fire engine following soon.-
The compass, the Ingersoll watch - Boy Scout knife
(then and now such a wonderful boon).
These were but the tangible tokens, of course,
that were seized upon with avid glee-
But now I look back - and I realize all
those Christmases stored up in me;
The hush of the twilight, the lights on the snow,
and the story of Jesus' birth;
The light in your eyes as you tucked me in bed
- and the carolers' song, "Peace on Earth",
My storehouse of happiness - hedged all about by your love,
and the lessons you taught;
The Sunday School stories, the sermons, the prayers;
of these my bright armor is wrought.
When I feel rebellious, disgruntled, fed up -
or sometimes spirits get low-
I think of George Washington at Valley Forge -
without socks in the snow
I'll draw from my storehouse of dreams, Dad and Mom
- from out of the lush year of the past:
I want you to know that you gave me the gifts of the spirit -
that surely will last
Through this hideous war - and the lean years to come;
and remember, when I'm far away,
No matter what happened, away down inside, I'm the boy that you raised.
I'm 1-A!