View Full Version : Christmas Memories and traditions

12-24-2013, 09:35 PM
While we have a quiet moment, I wanted to share something not that I wrote, but that was written by a beloved deceased friend of mine, from my church. I was in charge of putting together the Advent Devotional, and this one brought me to a stop, every time I read it.

In looking back, I find it hard to believe that there was one
Christmas completely forgotten by a group of sailors on a merchant
ship bound for Murmansk. Hereís how it happened. I was
a green ensign in the United States Navy, having just finished
required courses at Notre Dame and Columbia University. The
year was 1943. I received my naval commission and orders to
report to a navy ship in Iceland at the time. After spending the
night in Mahwah, New Jersey, I was driven over the Hudson
River to join a convoy of two escorts and 30 ships capable of 11
knots. I was a passenger only, being taken to my ship in
Murmansk. On the third day out, we ran into a most violent
North Atlantic storm. Waves were 15 to 20 feet high. A creeping
fog enveloped us, and the convoy had to disperse for fear of collision
(this was before radar was in use). This meant that we
would lose our escorts and be at the mercy of enemy submarines.
Seasickness set in for me and lots of others, and lasted until we
reached Iceland. I spent everyday out on the deck watching the
battle between our ship and stormy nature, listening to wind and
waves, the iron plates on our ship groaning and the constant
chatter of steel wires. It was so cold up on deck, but it afforded a
nice refuge for somebody constantly seasick, and it was a wonderful
place to commune with God and offer prayers. We were
occupied day and night with the storm and watching for enemy
submarines. The storm subsided after 4 or 5 days, conversations
began again, and we learned that we had completely passed over
Christmas. The Merchant Marine officers of the ship were too
busy trying to save a ship. No carols, no Christmas sweets, no
tree. We were all too busy trying to keep our food down and practicing
getting into our rubber survival suits which gave you 30
minutes in the icy Atlantic water (6 minutes without it) if our
ship was torpedoed. Yes, Christmas was completely forgotten.
Upon landing in Reykjavik I went over to the officers club and
joined the group of fellow officers and the admiral who had invited
us over to his private residence, a plush Quonset hut, to view
a movie. Afterwards we were boated out to our ship at anchor in
the harbor, and after settling into my assigned quarters aboard
ship, I began to think, we forgot Christmas. But God didnít.
Every day out there in that violent storm and submarine infested
water, I prayed to God, please, God, take care of this convoy and
its sailors. He answered our prayers. He gave us a safe passage
from New York to Reykjavik, our most wonderful gift of all, a
Christmas gift that will never be topped.

J. Edward Robertson

12-25-2013, 12:34 AM
For myself, gingerbread cookies were the first thing any of us kids were allowed to really participate in making. We all have spring/summer birthdays, and Christmas age 4 was the first time you were allowed to be the one to stir, with a big wooden spoon in the biggest bowl we had - the double batch of gingerbread! Then choosing the shapes, rolling it out, and decorating were always extra fun!

And by the way, many many years ago, before I ever co=hosted a chicken show on the radio, we HAD to make one gingerbread chicken. That cutter was bigger than the Santa one, taller than the camel, and was just too silly to NOT make one!

The last batch of tollhouse cookies is in the oven as I speak! Christmas means baking!