Here is another cute little holiday tale. This one, entitled "The Christmas Package," is from VB-Feldpost #2, (1943) pages 57-60. It was writte by Ogefr. Fritz Müller
It was only a few days until Christmas. Kanonier Heinrich Quastel trudged along carrying a large mailbag full of packages from home. He resembled a field-gray version of Santa Claus as he made his way through the evening-dim streets of a small city in northern France. He had picked up the Feldpost from the orderly room and now found himself on the return trip to his gun position at the airfield.
Heinrich was in a fine mood, and his broad face shone with happiness. As the mail orderly for his crew, he had to report every day for mail call and carry the large mailbags back and forth. But this trip was worth the effort, since he had peeked in the mail sack and discovered that his wife had sent him a surprise Christmas package.
Now Heinrich’s mind was working overtime to try and guess what Mrs. Quastel had sent him. Having taken a moment to pull out his package and heft it, Heinrich was pretty sure the package contained one of his wife’s famous smoked meat specialties, along with all sorts of other imagined treats. She understood, even so far away, that her husband, a tall, broad shouldered guy, was always hungry enough to eat a horse! Despite having plenty of food to eat from the messhall, he always seemed to have an empty pit in his stomach that just couldn’t be filled. And now it appeared that there might be something to help fill that hole, for a while, at least.
Heinrich was oblivious to the beauty of the early winter evening. Above, the cloudless sky sparkled with countless stars, and a frosting of ice on the trees shone along the path. But Heinrich wasn’t thinking about any of that. Instead, his thoughts were of cured ham, sausage, and cakes. Lost in his daydream, he almost took the wrong turn back, but caught himself just at the last minute. He arrived back at the gun position in high spirits.
Taking the mail sack from Heinrich, the gun commander sorted the small mountain of packages and letters into ordered piles. He carefully separated packages marked “DO NOT OPEN BEFORE CHRISTMAS,” and placed them under the Christmas tree located next to his bunk for safe keeping. Heinrich wore the dumbest expression in the world as the sergeant took HIS package, plainly marked, and set it far under the tree.
It was impossible for Heinrich to disguise his disappointment. He implored the gun commander with “please,” and promises to share the contents as he tried to get at his package, all to no avail. The sergeant turned a deaf ear — he knew exactly what he was dealing with; the biggest chow hound in the battery.
Dreaming of hams, bacon, cookies, and candy, Heinrich passed a sleepless night. His stomach was a black hole linked straight to his brain. The next morning, he jumped at the chance to get hold of his package at the first opportunity. Despite the sergeant’s warning, he took the chance, consequences be dashed! It was his package, after all. He could at least try and get a better idea how much it weighed, smell what was inside, find out from the outside what delicious goodies that Frieda had packed inside. And if it accidentally broke open, that wasn’t really a crime, was it?
Without a conscious thought, Heinrich untied the securing twine and unwrapped the brown paper on the outside of the box. Underneath was another securely sealed brown paper wrapper. A piece of paper was stuck on it. Heinrich read the words:
Heinrich – You should be ashamed of yourself! You are not to open this package before Christmas. Your Frieda!
Speechless, Heinrich stood there staring at the note like a kid who’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He was dumbfounded at how Frieda could have known that he would try and open the package before Christmas. Probably some secret power that women possessed — only God knew for sure. But still, how could it be that she knew beforehand? Dejected, Heinrich rewrapped his package and replaced it back under the Christmas tree.
And to spare you, dear reader, any unnecessary details, let us jump forward to Christmas. Frieda pulled off her Christmas surprise magnificently. As it turned out, Heinrich’s search for something to eat was fruitless. Because he had been constantly writing home complaining of cold feet, Frieda had sent him a warm pair of slippers and some books to occupy his spare time. It wasn’t until two days after Christmas that Heinrich received the expected — and desperately hoped for — package with all the good things to eat in it.
- This is the sketch accompanying this story in VB-Feldpost-3
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