Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dreaming of a White Christmas

When I think of my father-in-law, Frank Stevens, serving far from home during World War II, I imagine writing this letter so close to Christmas must be difficult. Surrounded by the tropical beauty in whatever mysterious South Pacific hideout he and his Navy fellows are secreted, he goes swimming just ten days before Christmas—a novelty, surely, for this Chicago boy, though he barely sounds more than nonchalant about it or any of the other opportunities at hand in this island paradise.

On the face of it, Frank seems to be suffering from what the French might term ennui. Or maybe it’s just an old fashioned case of homesickness.

I suppose the lyrics of that recent hit, repeatedly requested on the Armed Forces Radio Service, drift into Frank’s consciousness at times:

The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
in Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth—
And I am longing to be up North…

I went swimming last Sunday and got a slight burn, it is very beautiful out here. but not a blessed thing to do, no girls (so I can’t go dancing) and you have to wait in a mile long line to get a bottle of 3.2 brew (which I don’t like). Outside of sightseeing there isn’t any thing to do incidentally I’m getting tired of sightseeing sure wish I knew some one out here.

Tired of sightseeing, wishing he were close to someone he knew, Frank may be finding his heart and soul resonating with Irving Berlin’s enduring classic. He’s mentioned before—and surely now more than ever—wishing he were headed home for Christmas. When Bing Crosby croons White Christmas, in their hearts, Frank and a multitude of young soldiers and sailors (and their families so far away) are singing along:

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

Included in today's post within this series about my father-in-law's experiences during World War II, I'm happy to share a Christmas song that came of age during those years of turmoil: White Christmas. A piece that instantly resonated with so many around that war-torn world, it still speaks to me year in and year out during the Christmas season. I'm pleased to also add this as my contribution to the 2011 Blog Caroling event hosted by the footnoteMaven—a "merry and bright" writing encouragement that I hope she will continue as her trademark holiday tradition.

Graphic image courtesy of the footnoteMaven.
Words and music (including the rarely-included introduction) for the song White Christmas written by Irving Berlin, 1940; first public performance by Bing Crosby on Christmas Day, 1941.

The film White Christmas, directed by Michael Curtiz, was first released in 1954.

f o o t n o t e M a v e n


  1. Thanks for sharing, that sure gives this song a differnt meaning.

  2. Having been in southern Florida shortly after Christmas and stood on a white sand beach with a balmy breeze blowing through a palm tree and seeing Christmas lights on a fishing boat - I know it ain't the same thing... :)

  3. Yep, it's hard to resist that song. I like how you tied it to your father-in-law's letter.

  4. This is truly a Christmas classic and a befitting tie-in to what your father-in-law experienced during wartime. Thank you for including this one on the Blog Caroling 2011 tour.

    I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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