Coming Home For Christmas
Poem By David Harris
Mrs Merryweather put coal on the fire,
while outside through the frosted windows
the snow was beginning to fall.
Christmas was only days away,
though the air raid sirens wailed daily,
they could not spoil the promise of Christmas.
Life just had to go on.
The coupons she had saved
would help them really celebrate.
It was going to be a Christmas
they were all going to remember.
She looked at the mantelpiece;
pride masked itself across her face
as she gazes at the photograph of her son.
Dressed in his uniform the photo stood pride of place.
He would be coming home for Christmas.
He had written to say he had leave this year.
It would be the first time the whole family
had sat around the table
to share a Christmas meal in years.
Ever since the war had started,
there had always been
at least one vacant chair there,
but not this Christmas of 1944.
Some maybe late in arriving,
but that did not matter a little bit.
The family, her family
were all coming home for Christmas Day.
The day before Christmas,
they slowly began to arrive.
One by one, she greeted them,
and then sat them around the fireplace
to be warmed by the coal fire’s glow.
They gathered toasting bread with a long fork,
singing popular songs
along with a radio show.
The thriftiness with the coupons
had bought a bounty store.
Everyone relaxed by the radio
as the hours crept slowly by.
Yawns began to appear
as one by one sleep captured everyone.
Mrs Merryweather was the last one to bed.
She waited for the knock on the door.
The knock that never came.
He was probably held up somewhere she thought.
He would be home for Christmas.
She knew it as he always kept his word.
Outside the moonlight danced on the falling snow,
blanketing all the footprints
that were out there.
Christmas morning came to greet them;
the snow lay thick on the ground.
Everyone felt so happy,
only Mrs Merryweather wore a frown.
Then came a knock on the door.
Upon answering it,
she took no notice
of the lack of footprints along the path.
Everyone’s face was filled with smile.
The person who stood there
was Mrs Merryweather’s son,
who had come home for Christmas
just as he had promised he would.
He told them all that unfortunately
he could only stay until sundown.
That his orders were that
then he had to go back.
The day was filled with merriment
and joyous celebration for all.
The day passed all too quickly
and sundown soon approached.
He said goodnight and goodbye
to everyone and wished them all well.
Mrs Merry weather, her smile transfixed.
She thanked God for his glorious gift
of having all her family around her
deep within the midst of war.
A few days passed when two letters arrived.
Both were postmarked before Christmas.
One was from her son saying how much
he looked forward to coming home.
The second was from the ministry
to inform her that her son had been killed
in action fours days before Christmas.
How could that be she questioned.
He had come home
and spent Christmas day with them.
Her son had indeed been killed
in the theatre of war on the day they said.
The mystery of his coming home for Christmas
is a mystery that remains today.