December 3, 2020

A Tale of Three Christmases

One summer a friend and I sat eating lunch at a drugstore in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, when I looked across the street and saw a handsome young man who resembled a tall, very thin young man — a friend from high school. We finished our lunches quickly to walk past him, and later that day he called me for a date.

We dated a lot, and one day when we were riding a bicycle built for two in Cook’s Forest, he called back to me, “You wouldn’t want to marry me, would you?” I must have said yes, because that was our understanding when he left to finish his senior year in Idaho.

“Blue Christmas” was written for me that year. This was my worst and most lonesome Christmas.

Herb came home after graduation and began working in Philadelphia. Soon after he came back, I began my teaching career near Pittsburgh. He joined the Army Security Agency, which wasn’t too bad, because he was stationed at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and could come home on weekends.

Just before Christmas we decided to get married, and six days later had a lovely wedding — snow to our waists, but everybody made it. I had worked through Friday, and on Saturday, Herb hitch-hiked home. He got there just in time because a very nice man drove forty miles out of his way to get him there. On Christmas Day we both went back to Carlisle, one of several newly-married couples. That was a very good Christmas!

Herb had been transferred to Fort Devens, near Boston, Massachusetts, and in June, I flew to Boston. We were finally together in a large white house between Leominster and Fitchburg. At first, I was secretary to the Assistant Commandant on Post, and later, in the middle of December, came Barbara, our daughter. Even though we were one of the few couples who couldn’t go home, that was a perfect Christmas!

No more “Blue Christmas,” but I still choke up when I hear that song.

Ellen Woodall, Resident