I have been completely missing-in-action where my blog is concerned. Sorry for that. What was intended as a two-week break has turned into an almost six-month one.
Oops. How did that happen?
Ah well. No matter. Now it’s Christmas Eve and I wanted to share a little message of HOPE before I settle in with my family for some Christmas celebrating.
Merry Christmas, my friends!
To Dear Family and Friends:
For a world at war and in desperate need of some good news, 1943 had provided some positive developments: Italy had surrendered to Allied forces and itself declared war against Germany. The Japanese had retreated from Guadalcanal and the Americans were gaining the upper hand throughout the Pacific.
But had you spoken to your average American soldier on Christmas Day in 1943, I don’t know that you would have sensed a lot of optimism.
World War II had already seen two Christmases, after all, and Christmas 1943 would not be its last. The war would drag on another 21 months and horrific events like Iwo Jima, the Battle of the Bulge, and D-Day still lie ahead.
But it was Christmas 1943 when a new song was introduced — one of the more iconic tunes of the 20th century and one of the most endearing ballads of the American soldier. Bing Crosby recorded “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in October of that year and it quickly rose the charts to be a top 10 favorite and to become the most requested Christmas song on U.S.O. tours.
Today you aren’t likely to walk through a shopping mall or big box store anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas without hearing at least one rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” And more than likely, whether you intend to do so or not, you’ll find yourself singing along word-for-word with Bing, Michael, the Pentatonix, or whoever else you hear crooning those familiar words.
But let’s be honest: This is not a particularly happy song. In fact, its last line, “I’ll be home for Christmas/If only in my dreams,” was deemed so melancholy that the tune was banned from the airwaves in Britain in 1943 out of fear it would lower British troop morale. Granted, the Brits had been at war two years longer than the Americans at that point, had seen months of attacks on their own soil courtesy Hitler’s Blitz, and would suffer the loss of nearly 1% of their entire population by the war’s end. Perhaps that brings into perspective the British media’s concern.
But what was deemed potentially destructive to national optimism in the United Kingdom proved to be a morale booster to American troops.
Why? Because it was discovered that few things are so inexorably linked as HOME and HOPE.
No doubt home was already close at mind for these soldiers, but “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” actually celebrated the fact a man’s heart could be solidly fixed in one place while his physical body was a world away. At Christmastime a man dreamed of family and laughter and love,
snowball fights, handmade quilts, and Mom’s pecan pie, of sweethearts they longed to kiss and precious children they longed to gather in their arms, rock to sleep, and carry to bed.
Such simple things. And yet the hope of returning to the ordinary, mundane, BEAUTIFUL things of everyday life would prompt common men to do uncommonly courageous things that would eventually end the war and save the world.
HOPE made all the difference.
It usually does.
Another HOPE made all the difference 2000 years ago, you’ll remember. He left His home, dwelt among broken men in a broken and sin-cursed world, all so that He might restore fellowship between God and man and bring men to HIS home someday. Now we can live with the “Blessed Hope” that someday He will return for us, at which point He will set all things right with the world and take us to a final home that is far better than anything we could ever imagine on this earth.
Until then, may the Hope of the World drive us to be common people doing uncommonly good and courageous things.
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US.”
We wish you a Christmas filled with all the joys and comforts of HOME, and with HOPE for good things in the year to come.
The Holt Family