Dec 22nd 1915
You see I am at least two days late in getting my letter off this week. But the old excuse still holds good and I have been very busy as usual. My co-partner in crime came back from 9 days in hospital & rest home, and is still quite weak and not able to do much. This afternoon however I left office quite early and made up my mind I would get letter off before tea time or bust.
It is certainly beginning to look like Xmas in this room. The Winnipeg small parcel arrived the other day, also a letter saying that a hamper and cigars would arrive from London. The hamper from Aunt Jean & cigars from Uncle Bert. The cigar[s] arrived last night. Your parcels (Xmas) have not put in an appearance as yet. But they will come. Really I hardly know what to think. I feel rather embarrassed as it were. I did not know I had so many friends & such good ones. I have received parcels, puddings,& etc from some of my old patients in Winnipeg, by whom I thought I had been long since forgotten. And such nice letters. Our mantle is covered (littered is better word) with Xmas cards from Canada & England. And talk about your English hospitality, they are really too good. Cigars, cakes, handkerchiefs and even a lovely leather purse from one of my younger friends in England. One of Miss Ravenscroft's friends. This one is the Indian golf champion, although she is far from being an Indian. I think it will take me a long time to thank them all. I hope we don't have to move until we get some of the stuff eaten up. It would be rather awkward to have to carry it all.
I sent Emily a lace collar & trimmings. It may be interesting to know, that it is all hand-made, was made by an old lady with one eye, who lives where we eat, across the road, the old lady being a Belgian refugee from near Brussels. It took her 21 days to make it, working I should say at least 12 hours a day. I used to watch its progress each day as I went in and out from my meals. I hope Em will like it. I also got a similar one for Lot. Your little present is not ready yet, Mother. The girls at the convent are making it but are much behind time with it. When it is finished however I will send it along. Father's will go along with it, also Alf's, so don't look for it for some time yet.
For the kids, Ruth, Alfred & Fred Wm. I got little wooden boots, the kind the Belgian children wear. They were made in the next village, about 3 miles from here. I am disappointed that I did not get them off in anything like decent time.
Now for a little local news which must necessarily be scarce. One morning last week (Sunday) we were gassed. It was the funniest thing. Early in the morning, about 5:30, I was wakened up, coughing and choking something fierce. I jumped up and soon got wise and closed the windows. Then I put on my smoke-helmet and went back to bed. After wearing the helmet for about ten minutes I decided I would rather take a chance on being gassed. The smell of the helmet is something awful. A combination of all the different rank odors it is possible to collect. The Germans threw gas bombs which were quite harmless except for the inconvenience of the gas. It was quite a break in the ordinary run of affairs & we were all glad of it. The boys all wore their gas bags when they came down to parade. A few were knocked out but very few.
Reports are that the Germans would like to break thru along our line, but all we can hope is that they will try it. They have as much chance as the proverbial snow ball in August. Everyone is hoping for something to happen. In fact I believe last Sunday's smoke & gas bombs were part of an attempted attack which ended in usual way for them. The joke was on them when the wind turned. The proper morning salutation now is "Good Morning, have you been gassed yet?" Ha Ha.
It is tea (dinner) time so I must run & I want to talk to Father for a minute or two, which I will enclose.
Lots & lots of love for all the family & happy New Year.
[One corner of this letter is burned off. Wilbert's note is -"Caught on candle, sorry"]