“Home for Christmas,” these three words have been a part of war as long as this country has known war perhaps. It was offered as the hoped-for promise that a conflict would be over much sooner than it generally would be. Life in the military is very different than civilian life and while serving the Christmas holiday was our connection to that old life we left behind. Home, with the family on what may be the happiest, most peaceful day of the year.
For troops serving overseas, whether in peace or wartime, Christmas is the one day of the year you miss being home the most and while the services go to great lengths to make Christmas special for our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen, the unspoken truth of it is that it makes you miss home even more.
While Christmas wasn’t a holiday during the Revolutionary War(It was mostly banned in the New England Colonies if you can believe that) by the time of the Civil War, the United States population consisted of a lot more immigrants from Western Europe where Christmas was celebrated and Santa Claus began to make appearances in the culture.
“Christmas in Camp” by Harper’s Weekly artist Thomas Nash below is one of the earliest depictions of Santa Claus in the military.