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A Christmas Dinner - 1945

Bits and Pieces

Looking through memorabilia in preparation for my Father-in-law’s 90th birthday party in October was a treat. I find historic detail fascinating and enjoyed getting to know my father-in-law better. At 90 his memory is still sharp and his detailed descriptions of his depression-era youth and years of service in the army during WW2 were compelling.

I learned a lot about my father-in-law’s family and the challenges he faced growing up. I especially enjoyed seeing what bits and pieces he had saved as souvenirs. He had some intriguing photos, a few postcards from Europe and even a few menus tucked away in a folder. Not only did we discover a Thanksgiving menu from 1938 but, owing to my interest in history and food, he also pulled out several holiday menus he had hung onto from his Army days.

One of them was from the 115th Station Hospital in Augsburg, Germany where he was stationed for several months at the end of WW2 before being honorably discharged in the spring of 1946.

A Christmas Dinner from 1945

Once again I was struck by how little had changed in our expectations at the holiday table this past half-century or so since the end of WW2 and the beginning of the atomic age. This celebration menu for a meal served just months after the end of WW2 included a roast turkey and dressing, potatoes and gravy served along with cranberries and hot buttered rolls. There was fruit and nuts and a Plum Pudding for dessert.

Again I was charmed by the attention to abundant detail and special offerings including pineapple juice, coffee and candy as well as the printed inclusion of cigarettes, that mid-century staple, on the menu.

I was also impressed by the optimism that accompanied goals accomplished in the war. While those present at this Christmas Banquet were still far from home they were encouraged that their hopes and dreams were realized in victory and that freedom and democracy prevailed. They were also unashamed to claim that victory as an answer to prayer.

May we also be mindful of God’s power and presence in our lives as we follow in their legacy, celebrating the birthday of our Lord and proclaiming peace on earth and good will toward men.

Merry Christmas!

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