Dreaming of a White Christmas

IMG_0745This month marks the 75th anniversary of two things: the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, and the first public performance of the song “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby on Christmas Day. The first event probably helped create the incredible popularity of the second.  The soldiers pulled away from home in the holiday season and shipped off to the south Pacific longed to be back where they could enjoy a white Christmas.  For months the Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song. Soon its popularity spread to regular radio broadcasts as well. During 1942 the song was at the top of the Billboard music chart for eleven weeks! It went to the top again during the holiday seasons in both 1945 and 1946, right after the war ended. It’s still the only single to lead the Billboard list in three different years! The Guinness World Records organization says Crosby’s recording of “White Christmas” has sold at least 50 million copies worldwide, making it by far the best-selling single of all time. The legendary Irving Berlin, one of America’s greatest songwriters, wrote the words.  He was a Jewish immigrant from Russia.  Even though he never learned to read or write music, he composed over 1,000 songs. “White Christmas” was Berlin’s 29th number one hit. To put that in perspective, the Beatles had just 20 songs that rose to the top of the chart! The lyrics of “White Christmas” aren’t very complex.  The song contains only 54 words, and 42 of those have five letters or less!  Quite often the most meaningful and powerful things are very simple.  The Gettysburg Address has 272 words.  The 23rd Psalm has 118, and the Lord’s Prayer just 66. Although the words and tune of this song are amazingly simple, it touches people in a deep way.  That’s partly because Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, also affects most of us very deeply.  Unlike any other holiday, Christmas draws our focus to some of the most significant things in life: family, friends, and faith.  Those are the key things that give us the foundation for life. As we prepare to wrap up 2016 and anticipate the New Year, I leave you with this modified wish: “May your days be merry and bright, and may God’s love fill you with his light.”

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