On July 4, 1776 our nation the United States of America was born. It sure was a great day. Followed by months of relentless defeat. Under the command of General Washington, the Continental Army was driven out of New York and New Jersey in a series of disastrous battles. By December the Americans were down to just over 2000 armed troops and they were hunkered down in a miserable encampment in Pennsylvania. Enlistments were soon to expire. General Washington had to do something dramatic to inspire his men to keep fighting.

So he hatched a plan to take his men on a three pronged attack across the Delaware River on the night of Christmas Day and attack the Hessians (German mercenaries hired by the British) the next day.

So how do you spend the Christmas season and Christmas Day? Grumbling about the crowds and crass materialism? Whining about the presents you didn’t get? Washington and his little army spent their time crossing an ice choked river, then marching through an actual blizzard in near white-out conditions to get to their destination.

Next time you’re tempted to complain, remember the bloody footprints in the snow left by Washington’s men as they marched to face down the Hessians in battle.