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What does it mean when someone puts Army boots under the Christmas tree?
That they are wishing a member of the family who is away doing service a happy holiday and safe return home.
I was raised part of my life in France and later on when I got older in the US to go to school to learn English. My grandmother is American and I lived with her. She did tell me about this tradition one time and said that it was just during the war when both of her sons were away fighting.
During the war our families placed shoes/boots under the tree but all I remember is we missed them and wanted something to remind us where they were and why they were not at home during this holiday time. Families with deceased sons also did this and said it signified the same thing - they were loved and missed.
Most of the families in our circle did the same thing but I'm not sure how it got started and it did stop after the war ended.
I do not know of any family that has carried on this 'tradition' even with children in the military.
What is the context? Something from a movie or something you saw someone do? My late friend had tradition to leave small gifts in a boot or shoe on the eve of December 6. It wasn't a military boot though, so this may not be what you are seeking. Her family's tradition was part of the Advent celebration and it originated from her husband's Germany family.