Stories of Christmas: Honorable Mention, Adults

Several stories were submitted this year for the Brainerd Dispatch’s 31st annual Stories of Christmas contest.

Weather drawing by Sam Bertschi of Mrs. Hall's first grade class at Garfield Elementary School.

One soldier's Christmas in Vietnam

Time: Dec. 25, 1969

Place: Central Highlands Pleiku, Vietnam

I woke Christmas morning (or was it afternoon? Too much "Samoan lemonade" but that's another story). After a cold shower I sat down in front of my makeshift desk. On top of the desk, standing upright, were two palm fronds, between them, taped to the wall, was a 2-foot Christmas tree cut from cardboard.

The desk was covered with presents and cards from my wife, son, mother, sisters and friends. Some of the cards were from school children from across the U.S. addressed to: "Dear GI." Above the desk, taped to the wall, were over 50 pictures of my wife, son, relatives and friends.

I turned on the tape recorder and began to narrate the opening of my cards, presents, cookies, pictures, homemade candy, underwear, fruitcake and copies of the St. Paul Dispatch. The Dispatch was sent so I could follow the news of the Vikings as they fought their way to the Super Bowl. Although there were many wonderful gifts, the best gifts of all were the audio tapes, the voices from home.


The rest of my day was spent listening to Christmas music on Armed Forces Radio, Vietnam, reading the cards and letters, looking at new pictures and listening to new audio tapes over and over again. An early bedtime was in order.

A week after Christmas, I received a tape from wife thanking me for all of the presents I sent from Vietnam. However, my wife questioned my choice. Never give an 18-month-old child a drum for Christmas.

Jim Vollegraaf


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