December 21, 2020 Doug Shaw

My wife, Kathryn, and I have been watching every Christmas movie we can find during these evenings between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So many great movies were made just following World War II. The movie stars were back from serving in the military and the Hollywood studios were pumping out films full of holiday magic and hope. Who doesn’t love White Christmas which begins in the battlefields of Europe and ends 10 years later in a Vermont ski lodge.

These are powerful films. First, in their ability to touch us in ways that we need…every year. Second, they usually involve characters who are struggling with disbelief and discouragement but end up with a mystical transformation ending in the hugging and joy of newfound faith and relationships.

We click “buy” not “rent,” because we want to see them again and again!

We also began listening to Christmas carols and holiday songs the day after Thanksgiving. This year, for many of us, Christmas, is dramatically different. This year, some of us celebrate in isolation. We’re not sick and we don’t want to make any of our family or friends sick either. Kathryn and I can’t ever remember, in our lives, a sad holiday season like this one.

The song, I’ll be Home for Christmas is a reminder of another sad time, World War II. In 1943 lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent wrote the words and music to this song that begs the listener, to ask, “How can this promise be kept? How can anyone promise their loved ones that they’ll be together at Christmas when we know we can’t?” Both Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra recorded this heart touching song. But how can this promise possibly be kept by those who were scattered across the world in armed conflict? The “payoff” in this tantalizing musical wish arrives in the last line, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if- only- in- my- dreams.” It was and is still, a powerful and truthful song.

If ever we needed the power of Christmas, it’s right now. It’s imbedded in our music, our films, our sacred traditions and our faith. May you find comfort and joy in these heavenly brush strokes of bright lights upon our humanity. Joyous Christmas!

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