, Newburyport, MA


December 13, 2013

Christmas of a different kind


The highlight of it was to attend midnight Mass at what then was St. Louis on Federal Street, 2 walking miles distant.

Christmas Eve for us in Europe would be to do whatever we had to do for a month to greatly disappoint Adolf Hitler, but it was followed by a letter from home a few weeks later that made it one of the most memorable Christmas gifts of my life.

“Mom and I were just about to leave the house when a knock came at the front door,” she said.

“We could see a man in a cap with a visor and our hearts shrank. But when Mom opened the door, he said, ‘Merry Christmas!’

“We opened the box and there were two orchids. We cried all during Mass.”

Undoubtedly so did tens thousands of others on that particular Christmas, but the tears of far too many were not of thankful relief.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is

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