25 December 1943

It's Christmas and I'm on guard tonight and tomorrow. I've just come off my first turn of duty of two hours and it's now a little after 8 P.M. 4 hours off and 2 hours on for 24 hours. I'm in the guardhouse writing this. Last night after supper had to go to a two-hour session of guard school. Had K.P. on Thanksgiving and guard detail on Christmas. But I guess I wouldn't be going anyplace anyway. Our battalion was confined to camp or the nearby vicinity this holiday because it's on the alert again. There's really no fun in the army, it seems. Rather you can't count on any. It's pretty rough all the way around, and I must admit I'm quite sad and lonely tonight. Don't feel too sorry for me though because I'm getting used to it and the everyday trials and tribulations are accepted as a matter of course. Know you must have been a bit blue this Christmas season yourself. Some of the radio music I've heard lately was very nostalgic to me, and must have been to many others. Heard Bing Crosby last night sing "White Christmas" with a choral background. Would have liked to have gotten a letter to you sooner that you might have it sometime during the Christmas weekend, but never seem to be able to arrange such matters. Did you know that the soldiers here worked at night (you might say overtime in civilian life) last week in order to make up for the time we would get off Christmas. Just mentioning this to indicate that we're really kept busy. It isn't the old peacetime conception of being busy, but a grinding, relentless pace. But we're all in the same boat. Should have seen the downcast, lonely men in our barracks this day. All happy in a way for the day off, but all homesick at the same time. We had a wonderful dinner today. Turkey and all the trimmings, barring nothing. I really ate a meal. Our mess rations, by the way, seem to be getting more adequate this last week or two. Got a box of cookies, some cigarettes, etc. from Bert today. Yesterday a box of candy, peanuts, cigarettes from Gus. I really appreciate such things. Got your gift box early last week. It was swell. You couldn't have sent me anything better. I still seem to be a little short on handkerchiefs, but I can buy a few more myself, I guess. This cold damp weather we have quite often now is a strain on the handkerchief supply. Got over that little cold I had in a hurry. That is, the worst of it has gone some days now. Gee, I wish I were home with you and the baby now. Perhaps, I'll get a letter from you Monday or thereabouts that'll help a lot. Things are so very uncertain and unpredictable in the army. I can't figure anything out. No use worrying. At least it seems there are more hopeful possibilities than unhopeful ones. I ought to get a few days leave or furlough (maybe 5 or 7 days) the last of February or the first of March, when this B. Trng. cycle of 17 weeks (have now finished 8 weeks as of this day) is completed. But please don't count on it, for you never know anything for certain ahead of time in the Army. It's really impossible for me to write a very cheerful letter this late in the evening. But believe me, it's not too bad and it can't last forever. I'll be seeing you some day before too long. Oh, yes, spent the morning in straightening up my locker, etc. and a hundred other unfinished odd jobs. The afternoon in cleaning my rifle, etc. - getting ready for the guard mount. Am writing this on my knees by using a magazine for support. Part reason for the poor handwriting. May send my civilian shoes home; also a few other little things to make more room for the things I have to have. Never wear the civilian shoes now and they're a trouble to dust off every morning in cleaning up for the day's inspection. If I send those other 2 photos of you and Elaine, it's because I feel you can take better care of them. Well, next Christmas will surely find us together again.
All my love, Melvin