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Blessed to Be Stressed

A man harried by the holiday hustle and bustle is reminded of his uncle’s much tougher Christmas during World War II.

A small Christmas tree in an old barn
Credit: unknown

My tires struggled through the snow as I drove home from a long day at work. It was close to Christmas, and there was a lot to be done on top of my regular duties at work and home. I switched on the radio.

“Silent night…holy night…”

The song made me remember one of my favorite family stories. My uncle Dexter was a prisoner of war in southern Germany during World War II. He and his fellow prisoners worked the fields during the day and slept in a barn at night. He spent Christmas 1944 in enemy custody.

Dexter died when I was young, but my father kept the story alive.

“On Christmas Eve, Dexter and the other men returned to the barn after a day of hard labor,” Dad would say when he told the story at family gatherings. “One of the other prisoners had cut down a small tree and set it up on the barn floor. The men circled the tree, joined hands and sang ‘Silent Night.’”

As I drove on through the snow, I thought of my uncle, and the men who were with him, celebrating Christmas in unthinkable conditions. I said a prayer of thanks for Uncle Dexter’s few moments of reprieve around that tiny Christmas tree, and for all the extra tasks I was blessed with this time of year.


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