My Dear Ones at Home, -
I think that I will have to take a day off today to write letters, as it seems so long since I have written any.
Christmas has come and gone and a mighty good Christmas it was too, spent in old London
On Monday morning Jack Bassett & I got up at five o'clock and caught the earliest train in to town. We were up at Franks by ten A.M. and before dinner took a walk over to Franks shop and through Whitelys departmental store.
After dinner Madge & Eva were off from work, and we went down to Selfridges big store in Oxford St. Oxford & Regent Streets were crowded so full that it was almost impossible to move. Both of these great streets were packed like Eatons store on the day before Xmas, and when we got to Selfridges, there was simply a blockade which we got through only with the greatest difficulty. We had our tea up in the tea room, but could not buy any thing because of the crush. We intended to go to the theatre but found them all closed for some reason or other, and so went home and played cards instead
Christmas morning we were awakened by boys outside singing Christmas Carols from door to door. It sounded like 'Xmas in England all right and gave you the “Christmassy” feeling right away.
When we came down stairs the table was piled high with brown parcels, every one getting their share of the gifts. I gave Frank & Janie a very nice book on Canada, beautifully illustrated & telling the story of the whole Dominion. I got a pocket diary, handkerchiefs, cigars and writing pad.
Well we started to eat at breakfast on Xmas morning & scarcely stopped for two days. Where all the eats came from I don't know, but we had five meals a day, to say nothing of the extras in between. For breakfast we had porridge with cream & sugar, sausages toast, marmalade & coffee. After breakfast Jack & I went out for a bicycle ride, and later for a walk with the girls.
The guests invited for the day were Franks step-mother and step-sister, his brother Arthur with Mrs. Arthur & their little boy; Franks sisters, Emily, Nell & Doll For dinner we had a huge turkey, boiled ham, potatoes, turnips plum pudding, mince pies, - nuts candies & fruits. After dinner we played games and had music till tea time at four oclock. For tea we had cold tongue, potato salad, 'Xmas cake, pastries & fruit, and after tea we pulled 'Xmas crackers at the table. After tea came dessert at eight o'clock - fruit, nuts candy & lemonade, with which we drank toasts. The next meal was at eleven o'clock - supper, and for this we had cold meat fruit, hot mince pies, pastries, fruit & coffee
The party broke up about one o'clock in the morning.
The next day - Boxing Day - is the one however when the greatest festivities take place and it is a long while since I have had such an immense good time. The meals were a repetition of 'Xmas but we had a far bigger & jollier crowd, and every one was out for a good time. The guests were Franks brother Charley with wife & small son; Mrs Franks sister & her husband & daughter Grace (age 18, and some Grace) Eva's sister, Edith (some Edie) Janie Pecover from Porteous Road, Arthur his wife, Nell Emily & Dolly. Well between Madge, Eva, Edith, Grace, Jack & I we managed to keep things pretty lively, and then some. Jack promptly fell in love with Grace, & Grace didn't mind atall. Every body made the best use of the mistletoe, and we played all the old parlour games, and sang and ate & Ate & Ate. - And no one tried to put a curb on the cutting up and the eating, for Frank & Janie were as hilarious and as young as the worst of us, and led in all the fun. So long in to Boxing night we kept it going, and into the wee sma' hours of Thursday morning, till at length with fond & loving farewells the jolly party broke up, and in saying goodbye no one cared whether the mistletoe was still hanging or not, and to Jack & Grace it would have made little difference any way, for it was too dark to see it out in the corner of the hall where they said good bye
On Thursday morning we had to catch the train at Waterloo at 5.50 A.M. so you can imagine how much sleep we got. However we caught our train all right and were back in the hospital by 7.30 A.M. in time for a second breakfast. I slept all day yesterday, but all afternoon Jack was occupied in writing a voluminous letter to Grace. In the evening we went down town to a Sunday School Xmas tree in the town hall. The tickets cost us 6d. and every ticket holder received a present from the tree. My number was 100 and I drew a box of khaki handkerchiefs. from the Canadian tree.
I have received no Christmas mail from home whatever, and now we hear that the Canadian mail was all sunk. I am afraid that this is only too true. They had not received the Xmas parcel at Franks from you either.
I saw John McRae & a couple of other boys from old 7 Plt. (184th) in London on leave from France. They saw Argyle before they came on leave and said he was looking fine. They all told me that Charley Manson is one of the best officers in the battalion and getting along very well. The battalion was out of the line on divisional rest for Xmas, and so they would have a big dinner & good time. - better than last year.
Miss Ross gave me a nice little parcel before I went to London 3 handkerchiefs - a cake of swell toilet soap and a pack of gilt edged playing cards. I gave her a swell book on “England”, beautifully illustrated in colours.
Miss Ross is a neice [sic] of Mr. Manson, and writes to the girls regularly. She comes from near Toronto. She reminds me very much of Nurse Coad - about the same age, and a good Presby'n
Two girls down town whom Bassett & I sometimes go out with gave us each a pair of beautiful mitts that they made. They are big gauntlet mitts, made with water proof material, faced with leather, and with straps on wrist. They would be great mitts for driving with at home, as they are lined with wool. One of the officers who saw mine offered me 12/ for them ($3.00) but they were not for sale
These two girls are very nice and respectable. We met them at St. Michaels church, and they quite often take us home for tea with them
Jack Bassett comes from Toronto. He is a splendid chap - president of the Epworth League at home & Sec'y Treas. in the S.S. He is just the same age as I am. He is an electrical engineer by trade, and as Frank is quite an electrician they talked every thing blue on electricity
Now I must wind up this long letter, for I have told you all the news and am weary of writing
With a world of love to you all
From your boy