I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Over the last several years, I've had more than a few things to say about Christmas, my favorite holiday of the year, including these reflections on A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens classic. Whatever my"Randian" predilections, some of my favorite films have carried religious themes, including my Number 1 Favorite Film of All Time Ben-Hur—which opens with the birth of Jesus—though I do believe that this"Tale of the Christ" can be read more universally and symbolically as a story of personal integrity, struggle, and redemption.
Christmas brings forth some of the most creative impulses of the human spirit. That was one aspect of the holiday that wasn't lost even on ol' atheist Ayn Rand. One can see that impulse everywhere—from the joviality of Internet displays (see here, here, and here) to the holiday displays in department store windows to the extra care on display in the work of those who love their craft, of whatever degree of specialization.
That love of craft I witnessed just the other day when I was in a local chocolate specialty shop. We picked up a wicker basket of chocolates, and it was wrapped very nicely, I thought; but the sales woman insisted on adding to the basket a custom-made green bow. She must have been in her late 60s, and the way she tied that bow reflected a lifetime of pride in her work. Call me a sap, but I was actually emotionally moved by the masterful focus she brought to every twist of the ribbon in her skillful hands.
The fun of this holiday season includes the fun of gift-giving (and gift-receiving) and the fun of eating, especially those outrageously delicious foods shared with friends and family (which, dietary restrictions aside, includes pets). I know my dog Blondie approaches Christmas morning like an impatient kid, as she rips into her presents with singular purpose (see here, here, and here for some past Christmas doggie pictures, with her"eyes all aglow" indeed...).
Everything about this holiday is dripping in good sentiment: from the Christmas songs to the beauty of the lights that decorate the neighborhoods of my home-sweet-home in Brooklyn, New York.
Most of all, however, I find the message of peace, benevolence, and goodwill to be more intoxicating than any Christmas Egg Nog. It's the kind of message that has led some soldiers on opposite sides of a battle to lay down their arms, and nearly all soldiers so engaged to yearn for home.
When the song"I'll Be Home for Christmas" made its debut for the World War II generation, there was no way of knowing just how its themes would resonate with other generations of American soldiers. So, here's the lyrics to that song, in dedication to those men and women, whose"dreams" of home must become reality much sooner than later:
I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you
I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
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Diane Rae Larson - 12/22/2008
My mother grew up in Chicago. She lived in an apartment building with her mother and siblings. Her father had past away when she was young. In the same apartment building lived her cousins, aunts & uncles. One summer during WWII her cousin Ed was home on leave. They had a great summer, spent a lot of quality time together before he was shipped to Europe.
During this leave Ed purchased a Christmas gift for his mother. He also had a friend promise to deliver the items on Christmas day. Summer was over and Ed now gone. It is now fall. Sometime in November received a telegram, Ed was missing in action. My mom told me she always remembered how devastated her aunt was at the news. The holiday season was a little somber for them.
On Christmas Day everyone was at Ed's mom's (I'll call her aunt for lack of remembering her name) house. Mid-morning, during a particular quiet time, a knock was heard on the door. Aunt got up and answered, standing there was Ed’s friend with one red rose and a small package. These, of course, were the gifts that her son Ed, still MIA, had ordered when he was home on leave. The small package contained the record I'll be Home for Christmas. Aunt put the record on, they all listened thought of Ed and wept a little.
My mother would tell me that story each year at Christmas and I would feel so close to her. It is the most personal thing I knew about her—which is why this song means a great deal to me. Ed was found and returned home the next year.