Tonight I got in the car, turned on the radio and the Christmas music was gone. In its place was who knows what. Every station was playing a different version of who knows what. I switched to AM instead of FM and found one lone station playing Christmas music. I will listen to it until it too, abandons Christmas.
When my uncles were in World War 11, one of them--I'm sorry to say I'm not sure it was Uncle Joe but for the ease of this blog I'm going to use his name--it could have been Uncle Bob or Uncle Diz. Anyway one of them was lucky enough to be in an audience of men who were entertained by the USO. The program was almost over and the singer--again, the memory of Mom telling me this part of the story is fuzzy, but I think it was Bing Crosby--asked the men what song they would like him to conclude with.
"I'll be home for Christmas," one of them yelled.
"Yah, I'll be home for Christmas," was chorused by many men in the audience.
"Oh, boys," Bing said, rubbing his hand across his face. "Not that one. Anything but that one." He looked out at them with a stricken countenance.
"How about..." he named a bunch of other Christmas songs. Each suggestion was greeted with a resounding, "No, no, I'll be home for Christmas."
There was silence while Bing stood looking at the men who would not be home for Christmas. Maybe not next Christmas either. Some would not go home, ever.
"I'll be home for Christmas," one lone soldier said in a clear voice. The audience waited, as if every man were holding his breath.
Finally Bing sighed, hung his head and in a quiet voice said, "'All right."
He sang. As you probably know, the lyrics mention traditional Christmas things: Snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree.
Then he sang, "Christmas Eve will find me," his voice faltered for a moment. "Where the love light beams. I'll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams."
He could hardly finish the last line. The tears dropped, one by one, on his coat and from each soldier in the audience, it was the same. He could hardly speak. He wished the "boys" a Merry Christmas and voiced how much those at home were praying for them.
Uncle Joe never forgot it. Mom told this to me years and years ago and I have remembered it until now, maybe to write it to all of you.
We all want to be home for Christmas, even if it doesn't exist anymore. We wish to have loved ones close by. I guess that was why I was so unhappy tonight when I turned on the radio and there was no Christmas music. I wanted to keep the feeling of Christmas.
Uncle Joe is gone now, Mom is gone, Daddy is gone. They are together, perhaps watching us, loving us. Maybe they are helping us keep the feeling of Christmas alive. I intend to listen for the subtle hints more closely so I can have the feeling of home and family all year. So I won't forget my Uncles, Daddy or my birth dad and all the other men who gave years of their lives and sometimes their very lives so we could live with freedom and ease and peace.
Merry Christmas to one an all, every day, all year long. Merry Christmas.