Christmas has always been a celebration in America. We celebrate the birth of a savior. Freedom of religion is what brought the pilgrims to America. But with the end of World War II, America had something else to rejoice--the war was over.
A Time to Celebrate
December of 1945 was a time to celebrate and be thankful for the men and women who would make it home alive. It was a time of reuniting families, giving gifts, and feasting on a sumptuous Christmas dinners.
Getting them home
But before any of that could happen the United States had to get their soldiers home.
Ships loaded with troops fought rough seas to deliver their cargo home on time for the holidays. But when the ships did arrive the troops found they had another problem. With the influx of American sons and daughters arriving from the war, the rail system was overwhelmed. According to a December 19th 1945 newspaper article up to 82,000 service men and women headed home for Christmas were stranded in West Coast ports. San Francisco had their share of stranded troops. Residents of that city opened their homes to the soldiers for Christmas dinners. The Midwest and East coast didn't fare any better. East and west rail lines converged in Chicago where thousands more servicemen couldn't get the needed ticket home. New York Central system refused to sell tickets on eastbound trains due to stampeding, impatient passengers. It is said 40 trains a day were needed to get the soldiers home with only 4 available.
Lighting of the National Tree
Christmas Eve 1945, at 5:00pm President Truman surrounded by Secret Service officers made his way through the crowded South Lawn to celebrate Christmas with the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. The tree had remained dark since December 24, 1941, when President Roosevelt and good friend Prime Minister Churchill held a somber ceremony just seventeen days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Approximately 10,000 attended the 1945 tree lighting while millions listened in at home on their radios. To conserve resources during the war, most trees remained unlit from 1942-1944.
The first post war American Christmas also saw a change in toy and ornament manufacturers. Once the United States was reliant upon Germany for these products, but America became self-sufficient after the war and began manufacturing their own. The toys and ornaments made in the United States were less expensive than those purchased from Germany. Mattel Toymakers was founded in 1945.
I'm giving away a copy of A Cup of Christmas Cheer Tales of Christmas Past. Answer one of the questions: What do you know about the end of the war and Christmas? What is something about WWII that you'll never forget? I'll be drawing a winner on December 11th.
I'm excited that my story, "The Letter," is included in this year's A Cup of Christmas Cheer in the Tales of Christmas Past.
Debbie Lynne Costello is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. She attended Heritage University, where she studied Journalism and worked in the editing department.
She has a short story coming out in Guideposts 2014, Christmas Cup of Cheer on October 20th. She has completed five full length novels set in Charleston and Savannah areas in the late 19th century along with one Medieval, and is now seeking homes for them.
She and her husband have four children and two grandbabies. They live in upstate South Carolina with their family. Debbie Lynne has been raising Shetland Sheepdogs for 18 years and her and her husband enjoy their Arabian horses.
Hi Debbie! I knew none of what you just shared which now kinda makes sense of why my grandpa didn't make it home from overseas until Dec 28, 1945. And I only remember this fact because my mom was born Feb 28, 1945 and Grandpa finally got to hold her at ten months old - to the day! Thanks for a great post and the chance to win a copy of CoCC!ReplyDelete
kam110476 at gmail dot com
Wow! What a happy day for your grandfather. I can't imagine having to wait 10 months to hold my child. That would be so hard. Thanks for coming by and sharing, Kam.Delete
A wonderful post thank you. My father served in the Pacific. He was shipped home early due to having malaria. Once he was fit enough (though he suffered bouts for 20+ years) they had him moving bombs & ammunition from the depots to the ports & air bases. He was in uniform for 6 years & spent Christmas away from home for all those years.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, Mary! Six years away for Christmas!! That had to be so hard on your mother. Malaria was a big problem when going to other countries. You're mom probably really celebrated when he finally got to spend Christmas home! Thanks for sharing. I'm loving these stories.Delete
I am very inept in history, but through this website I become more informed. Thanks for the effort you and the other authors make so that we can all learn interesting tidbits of information about history. And thanks for the chance to win your book.ReplyDelete
Thanks for coming by and for following our blog! I'm so glad you are enjoying HHH and learning some history tidbits from it. That is so encouraging. Good luck in the giveaway. God bless!Delete
I am also a feedburner followerReplyDelete
One thing I will never forget about the war is that my grandparents met in my grandmother's country, Northern Ireland where they married during the war. She came to the US a year after the war was over.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the giveaway!
campbellamyd at gmail dot com
How interesting, Amy! Wow, I wonder how many marriages happened because of the war. I love Irish and Scottish accents. I can listen to them for hours. ;o)Thank you for sharing your story with us. These are just fascinating stories that add so much life to history!Delete
I just love learning more about this time in history. Thanks for the chance to win! I am a follower. email@example.comReplyDelete
Thanks for coming by, Chris. WWII has a lot of interesting history that is easily forgotten. It affected people's lives in so many aspects. Good luck in the drawing!Delete
I was nine years old when the war ended in August. I remember the celebrations and the joy that filled everyone. My Dad had been classified as 4F because of birth defect with his knee, but he worked hard at selling bonds and supporting the war effort. One of my mother's cousins lost the lower part of his leg and one eye in combat. Two others came home with war brides...one from France and one from England. That first Christmas in December 1945 was one of our best. My brother was born with a birth defect in his feet in October of 1944. A few weeks after the ward ended, he had his first surgery. He walked by himself for the first time that Christmas. Santa brought me a life-size new born baby doll that I treasured. What a wonderful year that was. Thanks for sharing, Debbie, and bringing back such great memories for me.ReplyDelete
I truly am in awe at the difference between people then and now. Your father couldn't fight so he did something that was so important, such as selling war bonds. Everyone wanted to support our troops. What an encouragement that had to be to the men fighting over seas. God bless your father, Martha! Thanks for sharing that. And I'm so glad your brother was able to get his surgery!Delete
I enjoyed your informative post, Debbie Lynne. I heard tales of WWII from my in-laws, but since my father-in-law served stateside as a Naval instructor in Norman, Oklahoma, I didn't hear about the return of the troops. What a Christmas that must have been.ReplyDelete
Please don't enter me in the drawing. I have my copies of A Cup of Christmas Cheer already. :-)
Hey Keli! There were lots of men and women who worked hard at supporting the war efforts right here at home. They were vital to the winning of the war! Thanks for sharing.Delete
Enjoyed this post and did not know about the crowds of soldiers trying to get home for Christmas! I enjoyed your story, The Letter. The books are a great gift idea for Christmas. Sm. wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)comReplyDelete
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Sharon! I just love delving into history. So interesting and so much to learn!! Yes, these are great Christmas presents. I bought some for gifts myself. Good luck! Maybe you'll win a set for a gift. Merry Christmas!!Delete
I didn't know much about WWII.. I wasn't born yet and my father wouldn't have been quite old enough to serve.ReplyDelete
I did enjoy reading your post.. History seems much more interesting as I get older :)
dkstevensne AT outlook dotcom
I follow by email :)
LOL! Isn't that the truth? I remember when I was in high school thinking history has to be the most boring subject! But if you have to memorize a bunch of dates it is rather boring. But when you hear ABOUT those dates making them come to life, they suddenly become so interesting!! Thank you for coming by, Deanna!Delete
I honestly don't know much about WWll. I do know my dad, maternal grandpa and his brothers served in the war. My dad kept things hidden from us. I didn't a lot of history until his death. One of my great-uncles didn't make it home.ReplyDelete
My mother-in-law is Japanese, when she was a child she was in one of the encampments.
The one thing I'll never forget is the Holocaust and the imprisonment of Japanese Americans.
I'm sorry about your mother-in-law. That had to be very hard on her and her family. And I'm sorry about your great-uncle. My great-great uncle didn't make it home and that is where part of this story idea came from. WWII was a difficult time for our country here at home as well as the soldiers. Thank you for sharing!Delete
This post made history come alive and everyone's family stories adds dimension. Thank you for honoring a great time in out country's history.ReplyDelete
Thank you for coming by, Kathy. The stories really bring the war off the page (so to speak) and make it real.Delete
Hi Debbie. I remember the years of WW ll very well tho I was a young girl. We moved from a small town to the city of Houston, TX. so Daddy could work in the shipyard. We were there at least 3 or 4 years. My oldest brother served then, Also two others who became brothers-in-law. We also had cousins and many close friends serving. Four brothers served and only two came home. I remember how everyone was doing all they could to help. Daddy said there was even a girl working beside him in welding. No rioting like now. Food was rationed and mother had a book you tore coupons out of to get certain foods. I got a small Christmas in a suitcase which was a closet on one side. And, a sister sewed me some clothes for her. I was so thrilled. Money was always short at our home. But the older sisters got jobs to help our parents. I love the stories from that ERA, And, how could anyone forget the Holocaust? And, it was sad had the Japanese living here were put in camps. I would love to win the books. MaxieReplyDelete
> mac262(at)me(dot)com <
Hello Maxie!!! I really enjoyed reading about your life during that time. I was amazed at how many people you and your family knew during that time that were serving in the war. I imagine it was that way for a lot of people. It was so sad that only 2 of the 4 brothers returned. Were these men family or friends? My grandmother kept her rationing coupons and other papers from the war. It was so interesting. Thank you for sharing your memories with us! Good Luck!Delete
The four brothers were family friend at the time and two were boyfriends to two of my sisters. One of those who died was one of the boyfriend. But one returned and married one of my sisters. In later years the one who lost her boyfriend married a sweet guy who had been in that war. MaxieDelete
Hi Debbie Lynne! I'm not sure when my father actually made it home from Europe because he was detained after the defeat of the Germans, despite having been wounded twice and lost his father during that time. So in my story for Guidepost Books, the wounded soldier, inspired by my dad, got to come home early from his injuries. Dad complained bitterly that despite being wounded and recovering in a hospital in England he was sent back to the front for the Battle of the Bulge and spent his birthday, 1944, drinking half-frozen coffee out of a tin cup.Having watched a documentary of that battle, I now understand why they needed every available soldier, in particular the sharp shooters. But oh what a joyous Christmas in 1945!!! Loved your story!!!ReplyDelete
Wow, Carrie! That is fascinating. I am really enjoying all these stories. Your poor dad, though! I guess the fact that they sent him back out there 2 times after being wounded really should tell us how important every man was. I haven't seen any documentaries recently but I can just imagine! Thank you for sharing!Delete
Hi Debbie: My mother was a "Rosie the Riveter" on the wings of a bomber in Detroit during WWII, while my father was in France and then occupied Germany after the war. I'm proud of my parents efforts on behalf of the country. I have a letter my mother wrote my father as she awaited news on the radio that the war was over. Dad managed to keep the letter & envelop and brought it home. That letter has everything in it from love for my dad to hope for the future, plus all the excitement going on in the neighborhood. I cherish that letter from the past. I'd enjoy your book. Thank you for the interesting blog. God bless.ReplyDelete
Hey Diane!! Oh my goodness what a treasure! That is so sweet that your father kept that letter and brought it all the way home with him. It sure shows his love and devotion to your mom. And I love that she was a Rosie the Riveter!!! Isn't it amazing how these women who before were expected to stay home were willing to step up when they were needed and take on a man's job! I am just in awe of the patriotism of the 40's. Thanks for coming by and sharing. Good luck!!Delete
Hi Debbie Lynne. My dad belonged to The Flying Fortress squadron that was the oldest Army Air Force unit in WWII. They fought 19 months in the Pacific without loss of planes or men. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. He was considered a war hero, but to me he was just my dad. He's been gone for may years, but I still miss him.ReplyDelete
Hey Kay! Wow! That is very impressive! 19 months and no loss. No wonder we won the war. :o) We had so many men and women who were either fighting or behind the men fighting. Your dad really was a HERO! I wish I could thank him for his service. Thank you for sharing.Delete
Congratulations Carrie! You won CoCC!ReplyDelete