Christmas in World War II (the Home Front)

By | December 25, 2020

[December 25, 2020]  My uncle “DJ” was a cook in the 2nd Infantry Division during World War II.1  He told me many stories of the battles; most intriguing to me was his time during the Battle of the Bulge.  However, it was DJ’s wife, my aunt Mary, which I could best associate with as she told us about Christmas on the home front in central Arkansas.

Aunt Mary would sit us kids down in the living room, near the fireplace, and tell us how she and her sisters would try to make things as normal as possible for Christmas.  They would write their husbands and assemble gift packages filled with candies and cookies, family photographs, and other treats to bring a Christmas spirit to their men.

Trees used to decorate were in short supply during the war due to a lack of manpower to cut and transport them to market.  Our family made ornaments from tinfoil, pinecones, string, and scraps of tin and other metal they could find.  During the war, Aunt Mary told me this was the first time the family had electric colored lights on their Christmas tree.

Aunt Mary was a young woman at the time, barely 18 years old, as her husband was off to war.  The priority in her extended family was for the children.  Toys were scarce.  Those with metal or rubber parts were not available.  Some manufacturers switched to wood and cardboard and the new plastics.2  “Bild-A-Sets” were gaining in popularity as it allowed the children to construct their own playsets.

She remembers the Christmas Day meals most vividly, not because the food was better or more plentiful; the opposite was true.  Aunt Mary remembered them because the family drew together due to the wartime environment. People pulled together and helped each other.  There was little travel, but that mattered little to her family since they all lived within a couple of miles of one another.

Judy Garland’s recording of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” hit the top of the charts in December 1944.  “Songs with a theme of Christmas helped build morale at our home,” she told us.  It was a time of introspection.3  Would your husband, father, or brother who had gone off to war ever return?  The question haunted her and her sisters until uncle DJ returned soon after being wounded by a German sniper in the Battle of the Bulge.

During the most destructive war ever experienced before or since, the celebration of Christmas made for some memories that Aunt Mary and her family never forgot.  That is why, each Christmas, she would share those memories with us.

Merry Christmas to all.

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  1. Everyone Fills Sandbags | (theleadermaker.com)
  2. http://www.sarahsundin.com/christmas-in-world-war-ii-the-home-front-3/
  3. Debbie Schlussel gives us a series of articles on Jewish soldiers and their celebrations during WW2. “Chanukah World War II: Moving Stories of Jewish Soldiers’ Celebrations” – http://www.debbieschlussel.com/45435/chanukah-world-war-ii-some-moving-stories-of-jewish-soldiers-celebrations/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

23 thoughts on “Christmas in World War II (the Home Front)

  1. Martin Shiell

    Exceptional article. Please continue this series, Gen. Satterfield.

    Reply
    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      I agree, Martin. The entire idea of reading should be rather obvious, but as Gen. Satterfield has written about in the past, we are encouraged NOT to read. That is sad, especially among young folk who should be learning early in their lives to read and enjoy the experience.

      Reply
  2. Gregory Sillyman

    I’m new here. Found this leader website br searching on leadership but navigating their sites was cumbersome. This one is easy to follow and understand.

    Reply
  3. Dennis Mathes

    Very educational and entertaining as well. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield for another great article on Christmas Day. I’m really getting into your WWII series.

    Reply
  4. Roger Yellowmule

    I’m up early and all my kids now have kids. But I still get up early like I did so many decades ago. Now I can spoil the grandkids. Oh, great article this morning about your Aunt Mary and your relatives back during WW2. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield and best wishes to you and your family as well.

    Reply
    1. Purse 5

      It is always good to read about how others adapted when things got tough. WWII was a hard time and yet all the traditions of Christmas survived it.

      Reply
  5. Greg Heyman

    Just a quick comment to say hello, best wishes, and Merry Christmas to all on this very special day.

    Reply
    1. Audrey

      I agree, and with all the craziness in the world today, especially the United States – the violence, looting, and talk of murder from homegrown socialists and communists – I’m hoping for a better year in 2021. The year 2020 was not a good time for us. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
    2. Ronny Fisher

      Yes, and thank you for saying so. I did not intend to write a comment today but with such a heart-warming story by Gen. Satterfield, I couldn’t resist. Merry Christmas to all.

      Reply
      1. Sean Matthews, Jr.

        Thanks to everyone who helped make this forum on leadership such a success over the past year. Well done! I hope to keep up the generous and useful contents.

        Reply
  6. old warrior

    Great article, thanks for sharing your family memories with us, Gen. Satterfield.

    Reply
  7. JT Patterson

    Best wishes to all. The story told here by Gen. Satterfield is part of the miracle of Christmas and I’m happy he remembered it and decided to share it with us. These stories are no longer common. The bond shared is drifting away unless those like us can hold onto them. Merry Christmas. Now, I’ll be getting breakfast ready after the kids open all their presents.

    Reply
    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Ha Ha. Too good. I wish that my kids were back with us and I could see them again opening their presents. Made me feel good to read this article by Gen. Satterfield and the comments in the forums today.

      Reply
    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Thanks and also Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends as well. 😊😊😊😊

      Reply
    2. Rowen Tabernackle

      Yes, and Happy Hanukkah, as well. I know it ended at sundown on December 18th this year but I still wanted to let all our Jewish families and friends that they are not forgotten.

      Reply
  8. Eric Coda

    Wow, your story from your Aunt Mary – a young bride – during World War II is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Reply
    1. Emily Baker

      Yes, good article for us on Christmas Day. I was a bit too busy yesterday to log on (being with my family and all.). Good works here.

      Reply

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