December 23, 1944
Mutzig, France

Unnumbered

Dear Gram,

            Xmas is just about here, and tho’ all have been kept so busy that very little Xmas spirit has been visible, other than the great number of packages that have been flowing in, we have had enough of a breather the last two days for plans for Xmas to have gotten into full swing. Nothing is to be elaborate and nothing is being planned that cannot undergo modifications if, as we sort of expect, we do become busy again pronto.

            Tomorrow nite the officers and nurses are having an Xmas Eve get together and then the following afternoon, Xmas afternoon, the officers and nurses are giving a party for the enlisted men of the outfit – complete with Xmas tree sandwiches, fancy cakes, eclairs, etc. and egg-nogs. Our French Chef is planning to outdo his previous performances that he put on for the three weddings we have had in the last two months. He can really cook and can really come out with the fanciest pastries that one could ever wish for. He would been be a credit to the Fairmont or Solari’s in S.F.

            Our surgical team, that is, Wally Greene, Carroll Russell and myself, are to be lucky for the first time! We have so far managed to miss all the weddings because of urgent work in surgery, but this time we are definitely not even on call on Xmas Eve or Xmas Day, and the same strangely enough also applies to New Years Eve and New Years Day.

            The patients, of course, are being planned for by the Red Cross gals and just what they have up their sleeves, I know not — tho’ I’ve heard them talking about spending their last few days doing nothing but wrapping up packages and decorating the tree that they have up in the Patients’ Recreation Room.

            We have all been receiving so many swell presents, mostly of the eating and sweet variety, that tho’ our baggage will be considerably lightened when it is all consumed, I’m afraid that the number of people that will fit in any truck or ambulance is going to be appreciably reduced because of  the increase in girth of everyone concerned.

            Oh, oh, Bret Smart who rooms next-door just decided that tonight would be a “soup-nite”.  He has been the best soup cooker in our particular small gang and tho’ I have now received many a package of soup, he insists that he is going to use his tonight, as he still has about 40 packages of various kinds. So, guess I shall use mine on another nite.

            And while on the subject of packages – thanks just oodles for the packages you sent me. They have been greatly appreciated and partially delved into. Many thanks for the swell picture of you – you don’t seem to have added any years at all to yourself in these first 2-1/2 that I have been away!!!

            I have received four packages in total from you and every one could stand a whole paragraph of thanks, the candy, sardines, soups, peanuts, canned goods, etc., etc….. But, I won’t spend that much time on it for I think that you know, anyhow, how much I really have appreciated them. Shall be thinking of you with each mouthful that originates from one of those packages.

            We have been pretty lucky being in buildings for the last couple of months, for the weather has been far from pleasant, at least as far as living in tents would be concerned. However, one difficulty is that we really don’t get enough fresh air. About the only time that we get a whiff of fresh air – and are surprised and unfamiliar with it — is when we go to and from surgery to our room. That being only twice a day, you see we get just about 4 or 5 breaths each way.

            We all have an efficient small coal stoves in each room and our places are kept plenty warm, if not actually too hot. We even have one of the civilian workers come in and light the fire before we get up in the morning – classy, eh? We have several such civilians working around the area, I think they were janitors here since the year one anyway, and they are just carrying on with their accustomed job.

            One of the funniest things was when, upon our arrival, we were fed in what was being set up as the mess for the patients. What do we see but a bar and a bartender behind it serving up beaucoup beer on draft. The beer was not excellent, but was definitely good and refreshing, and we have kept this concession going for the men ever since – we have our own branch in our lobby-club-room, maintained by the bartender’s son.

            Sorry that this obviously will not reach you in time to wish you a Merry Xmas, which I hope you had, nor, probably in time for ushering in the New Year with you, nevertheless I hope you did that with gaiety too. May the New Year be Happier for One and All.

                          Loads of love,

rene-transparent

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Watch for my next letter
December 24, 1944

Two days before Christmas, René writes to his grandmother – Lilian Kahn – Alma’s mother.

René tells his grandmother that, due to the inclimate weather, it’s great to be in buildings instead of tents. But since the distance between his room and the surgery is so short, he doesn’t get much fresh air. Louise Moon and Al Maidens are getting a bit of air, below.