By Don Janssen
It was the best of all worlds. My brother Dick and I would have a sandwich and wax the runners on our sleds. We always had snow at Christmas in Wenatchee. ” See you at church!” we yelled at Mom and Dad. Then, we ran and flopped our sleds on the frozen street. We picked up speed all the way across town and whirled into the snowy church yard. In a moment Dick was practicing his rogue choir singing: “We Three Kings of Orient Are tried to smoke a loaded cigar. It was loaded and exploded blasting us all afar.” Miss Spring, our Sunday School teacher, warned Dick and the cohorts; “If you sing that song, you’ll explode alright and I’m the one who’ll blow you up !” She had a red hot temper.
Dick didn’t try to be funny that year because the war was ended and the boys were coming home. Everyone was a believer that year. My cousin Jerry’s Dad, Hugh, was home and had a time of it trying to forget the Banzai Japanese he had to fight in the Aleutian Islands. “They kept coming at you and coming at you . Even when they ran out of ammo. Trying to kill you with their bare hands.” Tonight, he could forget on this – a night of lights and songs.
I saw our neighbor, Gib Shelton, walking and leaning on his wife. They sat in the 10th row back. He smiled at the folks around and they smiled back. “ Welcome home, old friend”. And Gib was trying to forget for this sacred night the days and nights he was a prisoner in the jungles of Burma. Beaten and starved until the British army freed him and sent him home.
Tonight all is calm and all is light. We all sing carols we all knew by heart. A brilliant cardboard star shown down on a nine year old Mary who clutched her dolly close, ever so close.
The Christmas Eve service always ended with candles passed around and lit as we sang ‘Silent Night ‘. Some of the old timers even sang in German. Then off to home and our own little service of hot chocolate and unwrapping dreams. I took my old dog for a walk up Cascade Street. We watched the moon sail on and sail on. A few stars take a turn and I’m in bed with a black and white dog warming my toes.
Dear Lord, It’s Donnie. Thanks that Uncle Hugh made it back without getting hurt. Cousin Jerry was awful worried. Thanks that Gib is getting along. I’m worried and need your help. Dad said that there was another big war not too many years earlier. He said that people just can’t seem to get along. My prayer is that you make them get along. If they could get along then they wouldn’t fight. I know this is a tough kind of prayer, but you’ve had a lot of practice. If you need any help, You know where I am.
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