Holidays from the Heart
Christmas in service brightened by Japanese orphans.
In 1951, I was stationed in Japan in the United States Army. It was early November. On a Sunday afternoon, as several of my fellow soldiers and I were thinking about the coming holiday, our morale was very low. This would be our second Christmas away from home.
What could we do to bring the excitement to Japan? I had an idea. We all loved children, so why not invite an orphanage and have a Christmas party?
A group of us went to the service club and asked the directors help us. They agreed to help and invited an orphanage,
We all had our parents send Stockings, toys and candy. My mother sent me a Santa suit, as I was to be the jolly guy in the red suit.
We were all ready when the big day arrived. Finally, the orphanage drove up to the service club. This would be a new chapter in these children's lives. Japanese people are Buddhist and didn't know about Christian ways.
As the children filled into the large room, they couldn't believe what they were seeing -- their first Christmas tree with all the lights and ornaments. They stared in disbelief.
Then the woman from the orphanage said something in Japanese. All the children gathered around the piano to sing "Silent Night" in English and German.
While the carols were being sung, I slipped away to put on my Santa suit and make my grand entrance. I went to the piano by the children.
The plan was to have each soldier take a child's hand and march around the hall while music was being played. About this time, the children were catching on and loving it. But the best was yet to come.
On the last round of the hall, Santa stopped at the Christmas tree and gave each child a stocking filled with candy and small toys.
Want another surprise? Yes! The service club women brought out chocolate ice cream, cake and milk. We soldiers again took a child and proceeded to help these little one to eat these new and delicious treats.
there is no way to describe the expressions on the these little faces and the eagerness to get more of this great tasting food.
it was a good thing there was a plentiful supply of napkins because wiping noses and chocolate ice cream from their faces, it kept us busy. But this was our day, and we were enjoying every second of it.
All good things must come to an end. I hate goodbyes, and so did these children. When the women from the orphanage said it was time for (sayonora), they cried. Some tried to hide. Some just got on the bus. The others were carried. When roll call was called and all were present, the bus door closed, and the bus slowly drove away.
Yes, we had our Christmas with the excitement of children and all the goodies that went with it. This was the best present we could get. It helped ease the pain and loneliness of being away from the ones we loved at Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, we were alerted that we were to leave for Korea to help fight the Korean War.