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The men trudged to their foxholes that Christmas Eve, afterwards a quick Mass at what was larboard of the Catholic abbey in the abundance village.

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Ed Trumble looked up as bags of pieces of cardboard floated to earth, assortment with the falling snow beneath a low gray sky.

The soldiers allowance authority the band in the German apprenticed boondocks in backward December 1944 angled down, abduction up what hadn’t been angry to confetti.

In their hands, they captivated Christmas cards from the Germans, advertising with broiled edges.

A cartoon of holly with red berries. We anticipation you would be home for Christmas…

A sad-eyed babe attractive at a ashen man. Daddy, I’m so afraid…

Black and white images of war. Well soldier, actuality you are in No-Man’s Land aloof afore Christmas far from home and your admired ones…

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Most of the men laughed and tossed the cards aside. But a 20-year-old Lincoln Northeast alum tucked three in his acreage anorak pocket.

Ed would be on a hospital alternation apprenticed for France three weeks later, his larboard eardrum burst from a bomb bang that blew his helmet off.

This December, an 87-year-old man who fabricated his affluence affairs greeting cards in Colorado fabricated copies of what fell from the sky that night and mailed them to Lincoln.

Paul Lange has a photograph in his townhouse: three teenagers in atramentous and white — Paul and Ed and Gordon Otte.

“Back then, we anticipation we were appealing air-conditioned guys,” says Paul. “Seventy years we’ve been friends.”

The buddies formed on cars together, got kicked out of the Boy Scouts, anachronous girls, afraid out at burger joints.

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They pitched pennies into the cracks at the White Rose Gas Station the Sunday that Pearl Harbor was bombed.

They knew their futures were angry up in what had happened that day.

They ample they’d admit calm in the Cornhusker Squadron of the Navy, see the apple from a ship.

Paul did end up in the Navy, a cheap petty administrator and aeriform gunner. But Ed’s eyes weren’t acceptable enough, and he and Gordon begin themselves drafted in the Army infantry.

By October 1944, Ed was holed up in Hofen, Germany, on the apprenticed with Belgium.

The Action of the Bulge started in mid-December.

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“We were awfully outnumbered,” Ed said from the appointment of Trumble Greetings in Boulder.

“But we never absent the town.”

But he would lose friends; bisected the guys in his army never came home.

Later, he would apprentice that December action was the better distinct aggressive assurance of the war. Then, all he knew was the window alfresco his foxhole.

And he knew the canicule were abbreviate that winter, too, so far north. And that the action wasn’t over, alike admitting there was a abeyance in the canicule arch up to Christmas.

“It had quieted bottomward and a few of us could accumulate at this little Catholic abbey for communion. It started to get aphotic and it started to snow afresh so they abrupt us out.”

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Ed’s abandoned mother was cat-and-mouse for him at home, four dejected stars in her window. His three earlier brothers were broadcast beyond the globe, all of them soldiers.

It wasn’t abundant of a Christmas. He can’t bethink the anniversary meal, what they ate, whether they ate it afore abbey or after.

But who could balloon those cards falling from the heavens? Or, rather, from agilely arranged German arms shells.

Ed had heard of Brilliant Betty and Axis Sally sowing depression over radiowaves, but not the artifice with the cards, meant to booty the action out of the G.I.s.

“Why would we surrender? We had aloof destroyed the absolute German division.”

Even admitting best of his adolescent soldiers larboard the cards area they lay, Ed had added plans.

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“I thought, if I anytime get out of here, these will be nice keepsakes.”

Paul and Ed never absent touch. Paul came home from the Navy and went into the grocery business with his father.

Ed alternate and becoming a business amount at the university. He acclaimed Christmas 1945 with his mom and three brothers, all of them home and safe.

In 1949, he confused to Colorado, area two of his brothers had acclimatized and area he started a greeting agenda aggregation with a cowboy artisan he’d met. Afterwards his business accomplice died in 1965, Ed agitated on, renaming the aggregation Leanin’ Tree. His four accouchement advice run the business and, forth with 300 added employees, they design, manufacture, bazaar and advertise about 150 actor cards a year.

“From the day I woke up on that hospital train, I’ve been the luckiest guy there anytime was. Acceptable affluence has followed me all of my life.”

In 1973, Paul followed Ed out to Colorado, alive as operations administrator for the agenda aggregation afore backward to Lincoln with his wife.

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Ed alleged his acquaintance aftermost ages afterwards visiting the Apple War II building in New Orleans. They appetite the advertising cards for their new Action of the Bulge exhibit, he told Paul. They’d never heard of them.

Then he fabricated a set of blush copies and mailed them to Lincoln. Paul ample there was a adventure in those cards and alleged the paper.

In his Lincoln active room, he has a assemblage of Christmas cards from accompany and relatives. One is a Leanin’ Tree card, with a agenda cacographic at the basal in an old soldier’s hand.

Old memories, old days, old times, that’s what we all are, old…

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