December 20, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“My Xmas Box came today, also a letter from Nora.
This fountain pen is just what I need.”
Chaplain Edwards remembered the exact dimensions of the Christmas boxes, in From Doniphan to Verdun:
Christmas day came while we were here and the day was spent in examining the contents of our boxes— 9×4 by 3 inches! But they brought a loving message from home. We furnished candles for the midnight Mass, the first in three years, and the good priest gave permission for us to have a Christmas tree for the children. These plans gave great pleasure to the soldiers, and it seemed both strange and touching to see these men who a few weeks before had been rough and dangerous soldiers, happy in the enjoyment of little children. And there are some children in France who will never forget one happy Christmas.
The fantastic Pershing’s Crusaders explains how the Christmas box program worked:
With Christmas approaching, in the early fall of 1918 the AEF GHQ again worried that a flood of packages from home would overwhelm the army’s hard-pressed sea and rail transportation system. To deal with this potential problem, the AEF restricted its soldiers to receiving only one Christmas package from home. Soldiers were issued a single printed Christmas Package Coupon, which they mailed to whomever they wished to receive a parcel from. The stateside sender could mail the package free to Hoboken, but it had to have the official coupon pasted to the outside of the box and the package itself could not weigh more than three pounds or be larger than “9 by 4 by 3 inches.”
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.