A Christmas Remembered (Ken Schuldt)

Zwiebrucken, Germany…December 1954

Shortly before Christmas, the staff at the Service Club asked for volunteers to be “Fathers for a Day” for some orphans from Zwiebrucken.

About 10:00 an olive drab bus pulled up to the base chapel.  The windows were filled with smiling faces—outside, gathered on the ground, around the bus, were the “expectant fathers” awaiting their new families.

It was soon determined that we had a minor problem—they spoke no English and we spoke limited German.  This obstacle was soon overcome with smiles and broken German.  Everyone smiles in the same language…

We were paired off with our new friends, and luckily there was a surplus of kids.  I ended up with two 5 to 6 year old girls …Helga and Geisla.

Our first stop was into the chapel to sing some Christmas carols, the tunes were familiar, but the words were a strange combination.

Our next stop was the base PX, where the kids’ eyes lit up like stars.  They had never seen such a display of goods.  We began our tour of the PX with purchases of toys and candy.  Each of the kids had come equipped with a mesh shopping bag.

Lunch time arrived and we headed for the mess hall…a small and noisy group.

Each of us picked up a tray that soon was loaded to overflowing.  Each of the kids had a full turkey dinner with all of the trimmings.  Remember those mesh bags—they now were being stuffed with the drumstick that each of them had come to treasure.  Plus, they had mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing.  Unfortunately, we only had napkins to wrap those items in, and those mesh bags were soon leaking a bit.  The kids didn’t seem to mind; after all, it was food for later.

We then went back to the Service Club for an afternoon of cartoons and a puppet show.  It was an enjoyable afternoon of smiles and hearty laughs.

The time passed all too quickly, and it was time to put our guests on the now “truly” drab bus.  It was a tearful departure as they left — soggy mesh bags and all.

I still get a heavy feeling In my heart and tears in my eyes when I think about those messy bags and the obvious need the food was going to fill when they arrived back home.  I often wonder where they are and what has happened to my special “gifts” from so long ago.

The day had been great for both the kids and the “fathers.”  We both came away with happy hearts and memories.

While this was to be my only Christmas away from my family, it has come to be my very best Christmas.  I have never received so much for a fifty cent investment (the meal cost for my two girls — Helga and Giesla).

This was truly a very special Christmas — A CHRISTMAS REMEMBERED.
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