In 2003, on Christmas Day, he and I were sitting alone at the table after the meal and Dad talked about another Christmas 60 years earlier in Ortona, Italy, which was spent "lying face down in the mud while Jerry pounded us with artillery".
That Christmas, I got a better understanding of why Dad was always content with, as he put it, "our health, a roof over our heads, and food on the table".
Anyone wishing to find out about the battle of Ortona can simply google it. The following is an exerpt from my father's book (unpublished as yet):
" Christmas Day in Ortona, we didn’t go out on the town to celebrate. We took a pounding all day from enemy artillery. (New Year’s Day we pounded them all day). All we could do was keep our faces down in the mud.
(Major) Alex Campbell was killed that day leading a charge on a machine gun nest. “Come on A Company!” were his last words.
His father was killed in action on Christmas Day in World War 1."
Dad returned home to the farm after five years in the infantry, married his sweetheart and raised a family. He got immense pleasure from the simplest things; a cold drink of water on a hot day, a bluebird in a tree or a conversation with a friend.
1983: Christmas with one of what would be six grandchildren
2005: 60th Wedding Anniversary with first great grandchild
This Christmas, my wish for you is time; time to savor the little things that mean the most.