Sunday, December 9, 2007

Remembering A War-Time Christmas

This little story was first published in Midwest Living Magazine in 2001, when it was one of the winners in their Christmas Memories contest. I hope you enjoy it.

In my homeland of Hungary in 1944, World War II played havoc with everyone’s lives, especially during the holidays. My grandparents, who were raising me, and I had traveled by horse and wagon throughout the countryside searching for safer surroundings, along with hundreds of other people.

In December, after settling into a small house in a city , my grandmother, who didn’t want me to be too disappointed, told me we would have to observe Christmas mainly in our hearts that year, without a tree or gifts. But I prayed to God every night, and had much hope in my heart that our Christmas would be special, just like it had been in the past, when things were still good in our country. At age eight, I still believed in the magic of Christmas!

Air-raid sirens sounded frequently at night in that time of fear and strife, often forcing us to sit in the dark, praying, until danger passed.

However, Christmas Eve arrived quietly, with no war-planes buzzing, and no air-raid sirens going off. And somehow, to my great surprise, my grandparents had managed to get a small Christmas tree, and set it up ablaze with candles and a few strands of tinsel and sweets, in our tiny parlor. And wonder of wonders, there were even a few presents, with my name on them, under the tree. The Christmas Angel had come, despite the war, bringing gifts from the Baby Jesus, like on other Christmas Eves in the past.

That night for supper, we ate noodles covered with poppy seed and honey, the traditional Christmas Eve supper, then gathered around our glowing little tree to quietly sing Christmas hymns, and Grandpa read the story of the first Christmas, from the Bible, as he had always done in the past.

Then I opened my presents, and I found a bright red scarf, mittens and a jaunty, upturned hat just waiting to be tried on. (Years later, I learned that my grandmother had unraveled one of her old woolen sweaters, dyed the wool a bright red and crocheted my gifts while I was at school.)

I went to church that Christmas morning with a joyful heart, wearing my bright red woolens, and I thanked God for giving us a very special Christmas, despite the war.

There have been many wonder filled Christmases since that Christmas of 1944, but none have been quite as special as that humble, war-time Christmas!
Peace! Love! and Joy! to everyone this Christmas!
A War-Time Christmas, Copyright 2001 by Renie Burghardt


Karen H. said...

Good Evening Renie,
What a beautiful story. I got chills just reading it. You sure do a good job at writing. You and Mary both do a great job. I always love to read both of your stories from days gone by. What a wonderful idea that your Grandmother made your warm Reds for you out of her sweater. That is just so touching. The noodles with the honey and poppy seeds sounds really good. I bet that was one of the Best Christmas' ever. Especially it being during the War. I am so glad you all survived and that I was able to find you and to know that you are not far from me. The fog finally lifted here some and it's raining a little. More is on the way I think. I missed our local weather at 5:00p.m. Maybe I will get to see it at 10:00p.m. I did see where there were some ICE Storm Warnings in the Region 8 viewing area. I sure hope yall don't get any. I read Grams post earlier and she said they had ICE. Well, take care my friend and have a great evening. May God Bless You.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.
P.S. I didn't post today as I was out of town. I plan on posting tomorrow and sharing a few pictures.

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Karen,

Wow, I just posted this, and you already found it! Thank you very much for the nice comment on the story. And I agree, Mary is a great writer. I was going to say "as well" but that would be tooting my own horn! Lol.

I was just saying to a friend, if we get any more rain, we'll have to think about building an Ark! Lol. But we have not gotten any frozen stuff, thank goodness. Just lots of wet stuff!

I hope you had a nice day today. I did, despite the rain. We go out to eat after church Sundays, with friends, and that's always enjoyable.

Thank you again, for the warm comment. That war-time Christmas was a long time ago, but I still remember it vividly.

Have a nice evening, and God bless you and yours.


Mary said...


A beautiful story. Some of the best Christmases I've ever had were the ones when something very small and simple was under the tree. The thing I enjoyed most was the gathering of family at Grandma's for Christmas dinner. Thank you for sharing.

Blessings and love,

Tina Coruth said...


A Christmas gift with love knitted into every stitch. Beautiful!

I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. :-)


Renie Burghardt said...


And thank you for your heart felt comment. The most remembered Christmases are always the ones involving family gatheringings, simple gifts, and love.

Thank you again for the beautiful comment. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Love and Hugs,


PS. I received your lovely card in the mail yesterday. Thank you for thinking of me.

Renie Burghardt said...


You snuck in here while I was replying to Mary. A gathering of old friends! Thank you for the lovely comment, my friend. All is well here, although somewhat wet. I hope you're all enjoying the snow.

Hugs and blessings,


Michele said...

Oh, Renie, I'm overcome with tears! I could just feel the love, joy, and Christmas magic! I savored every single word of this magnificent recollection of your most special childhood memory.


Renie Burghardt said...

Dear Michele,

Thank you for your kind words on my little story. So long ago, but a much cherished memory.

Blessings and Hugs,


Nonna said...

What a beautiful christmas story! I miss being at my grandparents house for Christmas. Lots of wonderful,cherished memories.

Patty said...

Dear Renie,
What a beautiful story. You were so fortunate to have your loving Grandparents. I'm so sorry for all that you had to go through as a young child, but all of those experiences has made you the wonderful person you are today.

I never had to go through a real air raid, we would have what they called air raid drills. I use to hate them, if you didn't have heavy curtains or drapes, you had to sit in a room without any lights, and wait patiently for the all clear sound. I use to hate to hear that sound when they would blare to signal us to shut off the lights. I still do not like to hear anything that sounds like one. I can only imagine how you feel having lived during the real ones. I was also eight in 1944.

I can see why your story was picked as a winner.

Well it's time to fix a bite of breakfast. Have a wonderful day. It's damp, foggy and cold here again this morning. Temp says 33F.
Your friend,

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Nonna,

Thank you for reading my little story, and for the nice comment on it.



Renie Burghardt said...

Dear Patty,

Yes, my grandparents were a real blessing in my life, and I miss them to this day. And we were fortunate to survive the war, although we had many close calls.

Thank you for your lovely comment. I didn't know you had air raid drills here during the war.

Yes, you and I are the same age. Both oldies but goodies, right? LOL.

We've had heavy rains for the last 3 days, and more in the forecast, so I'm glad we're in the mid-40s here, otherwise, we'd be buried in snow!

Oh, and I wanted to tell you what a lovely daughter you have in Melinda!

Have a great day, my friend. I have to go out today, so I have to get ready now.



Leann said...

Oh I loved it was like being there with you.lovely warm heart felt and wonderful.there is no other time like christmas.

thanks for stopping over to defend my blog.glad you enjoyed the snow was the only way I could get my point across to those two guys.and wonder if they can even read it and see it.

thank you so much for sharing this with us.
God bless your home with comfort and joy.peace on earth and love flowing in every room this christmas.

Renie Burghardt said...

Dear Leann,

Thank you for your kind, sweet comment, and I agree that there is no other time as special as Christmas.

Hah, your mooning snowman gave me a big surprise! Lol. Hope the guys you intended it for, saw it. Lol.

Thank you for the wonderful Christmas wishes as well, and I wish the same for you and yours.

Love and Hugs,


Anonymous said...

renie, that was a beautiful christmas story, very heart warming. i could just imagine how hard those times were for everybody.

i somehow can relate to that story with a different twist. i still have hope, even if it's just a speck, inside my heart that things will get better for me this coming christmas.

Renie Burghardt said...

Pia! Hi!!!

Nice to see you visiting here again. Thank you for the lovely comment on my story.

I pray that your Christmas dreams do come true, dear Pia.

Christmas blessings,


audrey` said...

Dearest Renie

Thank you so much for sharing your very special Christmas 1944 with us.
The happy time spent with our loved ones is the best memories =)

Blessings and love to you, my friend.
Take care, Renie.

Renie Burghardt said...

Dear Audrey,

Thank you for your lovely comment, from the bottom of my heart!

Love and Christmas blessings to you, my friend.



Karen H. said...

Good Morning Renie,
I'm just coming by to check on you and make sure things are okay up there. Hubby has to go into Missouri later today and tonight. He is going to Meta, MO. I think they have had some ICE there as well. Please keep him in your prayers as he travels that way. It was another foggy morning. When I took hubby up to his truck around 5:40a.m. it was very foggy. When I took the girls to school around 7:30a.m. it looked like it had lifted some. We are under a Dense Fog Advisory until 10:00a.m. Rain is suppose to move in tonight. Well, take care my friend and have a great Tuesday. May God Bless You.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.

deborah wilson said...


That was a beautiful story. Probably the best Christmas gift that most Americans have ever had, without realizing, is that we have never had to live with air raid sirens or run underground within a few seconds notice.

I hope your weekend was good - we could use some of your rain!

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Karen,

I pray that your husband makes it safely on the icy roads! We were fortunate that it missed us around here. I am doing well, and I hope you are, too. Just very busy.

Thank you for coming by. I hope you are having a nice Tuesday!

Blessings and Hugs,



Thanks for the nice comment on my story. I left out what followed the day after Christmas. Things didn't stay quiet for long.

I'd be glad to send some of our rain your way! Everything is a sea of muck around here. But I'm not complaining. The people who got the ice are in much worse condition. However, a general snow is now in the forecast for Saturday night. Oi Veh! But maybe I can take some snow pictures. I'd rather not, but if it comes, I might as well. Lol.

My weekend was great! I hope yours was as well.

Holiday cheers!


ancient one said...


I loved your story.

I love history!! I remember an old neighbor telling me that he got gassed in "The War"... I realized later that he was talking about World War I...

And later my dad was drafted for World War II...

And later my brother was sent to Vietnam...

And now my cousin (once removed) and our great nephew are in Iraq...

Christmas signifies Peace and Good Will...

Wonder how many little girls are praying for a Good Christmas this year?

I hope that in years to come they will be able to tell a beautiful story as you have done...

Thanks for sharing and reminding us...

God is still Good!! Jesus still saves!!


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

That is a wonderful story. Thank you.

Susie said...

Hi Renie,
I so enjoyed reading your Christmas memories from 1944. It's showcases your writing skills so well.
Hope you're staying warm and cozy!

Merle said...

Dear Renie ~~ That was a beautiful story and your grandparents wer so good to you and I am sure you will always miss them. I hope you have a lovely Christmas this year also.
Thank you for all your comments, I am trying to catch up.Seem to spend my life catching up. BTW I was 10 in 1944. I am glad you enjoyed The Two Wolves and I Wish You Enough ~ I liked them both too. I posted my cards yesterday so that job is done Hope you got yours away too.
Take care my friend and thank you again for your story. Love, Merle.

Renie Burghardt said...


Thank you for your kind comment on my story. War is always H**l, but God is good! He is always good.

Christmas blessings and Hugs,


Mr. Nick,

Thank you for your kind comment.
Merry Christmas!


You are most kind. And it's good to see you!

Love and Christmas blessings!


Dear Merle,

I always enjoy hearing from you, and always love reading your inspirational blog. You were 10 in 1944? You're my elder! Lol.

I have to get all my packages mailed today. Most of my cards have been mailed off already. Take care and have a great Thursday, my friend.

Love and blessings,


Karen H. said...

Good Morning Renie,
Well I'm just doing my daily check on you to make sure you are okay. I seen on someone's blog where you are thinking about taking a hiatus from blogging? I hope not. I sure would miss you. I have been up pretty much all night. I did sleep about an hour. I haven't felt too good. It feels like I am trying to get a stopped up nose. It was 73 degrees here yesterday and we got some rain overnight. This morning when I first got on the computer around 4:45a.m. it was 53 degrees and it's now 45 degrees as I'm typing this. Alot different than yesterday. They said we might even see some snow Friday night into Saturday. I'll believe it when I see it tho. Well, take care my friend and have a great Wednesday. May God Bless You. Stay warm.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Karen,

Thank you for checking on me. I was gone most of the day.

Yes, it was warm yestrday, and cold and rainy again today. And snow in the forecast for the weekend. Guess if it gets here, I will take some snow pictures. But I'm hoping they are wrong about the snow.

I have been thinking of taking a break from blogging. We will see.

I'm sorry you don't feel well and hope you feel better soon! Thank you for coming by. Have a nice day, take care, and God bless!


Karen H. said...

Hey Renie,
It's me again. Hope you don't mind me stopping by so much. I was just going to let you know that Meta, MO is about 48 miles Northwest of Rolla, MO. From Meta, MO, hubby had to go to Mexico, MO and pick up a load. Mexico, MO is about 72 miles North of of Meta. The load he picked up at Mexico, Mo, he is having to take to Decatur, Arkansas. It's North of Fayettville, Arkanas. He said the roads was in good shape, but he did see some trees with ice on it. He said they had been putting salt or sand on the highways and they were in good shape. "PRAISE GOD" for that. I was going to ask you, that Christmas Tree on the right of your page, is that your tree? It is beautiful. Thanks for letting me stop by again. I watched the weather at 6:00p.m. out of Jonesboro and the way the weather guy was talking that North of Jonesboro could see quite a bit of snow, Jonesboro to the South a bit, a mixture of rain and snow, and then further South, just rain. Who knows what we might wake up to Saturday morning. We will just have to stay tuned huh? LOL. It's still raining here and 43 degrees. Well, take care my friend and have a great evening. May God Bless You.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Karen

I'm always glad to see a comment from you! Thank you for explaining where Meta, Missouri was. I'm glad your husband had no ice problems on the run.

The beautiful Christmas tree on the right is actually my daughter's tree. They went to cut down their own tree, as they do every year, and when they set it up and finished decorating it, she sent me a picture. It's 8 feet tall, and does look lovely. My granddaughters love it. My Christmas tree is a much smaller one that they put up during their Thanksgiving visit.

Well, I am north of Jonesboro, and the forecast is still for some snow Saturday, so we will see. Snow will make the wet, mucky landscape beautiful, and if it comes, I will take pictures of it. I still hope it doesn't come, but I am preparing for it.

Thank you for visiting. I always enjoy hearing from you. Have a great Thursday, my friend.

Love and Hugs,


Pauline said...

Isn't it wonderful that Christmas angels comes in all sorts of guises?

Renie Burghardt said...

Dear Pauline,

Yes, it is wonderful! Thank you kindly for visiting.

Christmas blessings,


GardenGoose said...

what a lovely story..your grandmother had great love for you. thank God for grandmothers like that.
hope you have a lovely Christmas.

Renie Burghardt said...

Dear Tina,

Yes, my Grandma was the best, and I miss her to this day. Thank you for reading and commenting on my little story. God bless you and Merry Christmas!