Family Christmas Ornament #1


In our family home, the tree has many ornaments, but none treasured more than a tiny little sock from 1952.


If you look at the little sock, you can see a small question mark stitched to it.


Christmas of 1952 was a moment of optimism in our family. My father had just returned from the Korean War, and my mother quietly told her mom that she was pregnant. This child would be the first of a new generation in the family. Since you had to wait to know back then, my grandmother stitched a little question mark on a tiny stocking, an optimistic look forward to her first grandchild. Between my Fathers safe return and a new life coming, it was a good Christmas.


Shortly after the Holiday, My father was emergency recalled to Korea. The unsettling  circumstances of his departure are in this story: A clarification and a century old story.


Months later, my brother was born. He came more than a month early. At that moment, my father was near Wolmi-do island with the 1st Marine Division, under communist air attack. My mother had not heard from him in weeks, went to the delivery room knowing only that he was in an area of hard fighting. Ten days later my father’s unit was withdrawn to Japan.


By chance, a friend said that there had been a message for him. A search of hundreds of notes in the com center revealed one that only said “Lt. j.g. Wynne: Boy. Wife, baby, doing well.” A drive to another base finds a Ham radio operator, then a clear connection to another Ham in California, and a phone link. My mother tells him she has chosen to name the boy Michael. My father is very moved; it is his own father’s name.


It is several months before he can come back. It was a difficult birth, and my brother is born with terrible colic. My mother is exhausted when he arrives, and collapses in sleep. Here is my father’s home-coming from his first war: He is a new father, rocking his son to sleep in a quiet apartment in California. This tiny boy in his arms is named for his own father, the hero of my father’s world, a man who is fading in a long twilight of his life. On this evening in August of 1953, my father certainly understands how fortunate he is. He is married to a very strong person; he has survived a war that others have not; and he holds his own son in his arms.


Sixty-four years later, I have the unspeakable good fortune to still have both of my parents. It is Christmas eve, and they are both resting upstairs as I type this in the kitchen. In the morning, my brother, the origin of all the optimism of Christmas ’52, will arrive with his own family. There will be many bright and fun moments tomorrow, but through it all, my thoughts will remain focused on how my family and myself have been the recipients of countless blessings over the decades the little sock first appeared on a tree.


May all of you enjoy taking time to consider the parents, both here and past, who made our world and our lives possible. -ww.




4 Replies to “Family Christmas Ornament #1”

  1. William, Merry Christmas to you and your family. I look forward to crossing paths some time in ’17.

  2. William. Thank you for your thoughts and keeping everything in perspective. Merry Christmas.

  3. Merry Christmas! I feel blessed today to have my life and my family in this great land.

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