December 25th, 1917
Christmas day and I must write the letter home. It is after supper and we are sitting around for tonight, two of the boys playing a game of chess and the rest of us writing. Before I tell you about how we spent the day I want to thank you for your parcel which I received the day before yesterday. It was splendid and just came in time for Christmas. Also received a parcel from Clemmie the same day and must write to her this evening also. I think my last letter was written on the 19. On the 21st some of us came up the line to our new position which proved to be the old one we vacated before going north. We got things pretty well squared away and the rest came up on the 22nd and the 23rd.
We were very fortunate in getting back our old dugouts for they are easily the best we have had since coming to France. I wish you would have seen the country the morning we came up. It was a cold, crisp morning with a bracing tang to the atmosphere and the trees covered with the heavy white frost of the night before glistening and sparkling in the bright morning sun. It made a scene of extraordinary beauty. You know almost every road in France has its avenues of shade trees and looking back as we bowled along in the
motor lorry it reminded me of the Canadian Christmas. The country under a the pure white robe had a resemblance to our own Canadian country, with its undulating surfaces and its groves of trees sheltering snug cottages and villages. But soon the scene began to change, and first we passed a town with a few houses smashed up, then one half in ruins and so on into the desolate domain of devastation where the stern hand of war holds sway. And even here Nature has done her best to soften the harsh exterior and hide cruel scars wrought by the withering hand of destruction and were it not for the sad tragedy of ruined homes one could almost describe it as beautiful also.
Well from the 21st until Christmas we spent all our spare time in getting the dugout fixed up as nicely as possible for Christmas and by Christmas we had it nicely decorated. I think I have described the dugout to before; our seven beds around the three walls, our tables and grate along the other wall in the corner our cupboard full of dishes, also our big mirror hanging above the table, taken all through as snug a little home as one could wish for out here. Yesterday, Albert Dennis and I went out and gathered some green branches, spruce, fir and cedar also the leaves of some evergreen shrub which I did not recognize but which were very pretty and we easily decorated our home. Not having quite enough material we went out again, and this time we found a real holly tree and with it we were well away. We decorated our mirror with the leaves of the evergreen shrubs, the posts of our supports with cedar and fir and the supports themselves with holly. Our cupboard we papered with some brown oiled paper which we found and in addition we added a few sprays of holly along the front which made a very pleasing effect. In a word by the time we had finished our home looked more like some
farmer's paradise then a bare French cellar a mile and a half from Brother Boche. On Christmas morning I was the first to wake so I got up, made a fire on the grate, had a wash and got the breakfast going which I dished out to the other fellows in bed. Then everybody got up and got busy and by 9 o'clock we were squared away for the day. Then the fiddle was produced and we went all the way from the Sailors Hornpipe to Lead Kindly Light. Next on the program was dinner at 1:00. It consisted of roast chicken with dressing, gravy, potatoes, carrots and for dessert plum pudding with sauce and of course
in addition we had extras of our own in the shape of cocoa and cake, fruit, and to finish up Marguerite cigars which one of the fellows had received in a parcel from home. Not a bad dinner when you take everything into consideration, was it? After dinner we sat around the fire and talked - talked of the old days back home before the war, talked of our training days, and talked of the life out here, of our last Christmas also spent on the line and of the events of the intervening year.
Presently, someone suggested the question, where will we spend next Christmas and in answer to it some of the more optimistic among us said Canada, others Blighty while a couple of pessimists among us suggested that probably we would still be in France. Time alone however will show but in the meantime we will live in hope. So the day passed and now it is Christmas night. How I would like to be with you all tonight. But fate has decided otherwise, it is the will of Providence that I should be here and I am contented and happy. And after all I have no room to kick. I am perfectly comfortable and lack nothing and am far better off then many a man in civilian life today. I wonder what
kind of a night it is at home tonight. We had a light flurry of snow just at dark and now the moon in shining bright and clear upon it from a cloudless sky. Everything is perfectly quiet, it is as though the two opposing forces have agreed to make this day as peaceful as possible and except for an occasional report of a gun one would never know there was a war on. There is just one thing which I would like this evening and as I looked out over the peaceful scene tonight with the glittering white snow sparkling under the moon beams I could not help thinking what a perfect ending a nice sleigh drive would make to this Christmas.
Now I think you must be getting tired of this scrawl so I will close. All well and happy.
With a heart full of love to all from your soldier son, Harold