I imagine most of us have a favorite Christmas movie. Do you?
A sure sign at our house that the Christmas season is at hand is when Debbie, my wife, puts the movie, “White Christmas” into the DVD. We never tire of it.
There are a number of curious things about this movie and the song that inspired it…
- The movie came out in 1954 and was the highest grossing movie that year.
- It was inspired by the song, “White Christmas,” which begins and ends the movie.
- Yet, the song, “White Christmas” was actually written in 1940 beside a pool in a spa in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.
- The writer was (slide) Irving Berlin, the son of Russian Jews who immigrated to America in 1893. Berlin also wrote such songs as “Easter Parade,” Putting on the Ritz,” and even “God Bless America.” In fact, he was kind of the Charles Wesley of American music, composing over 3000 songs (Wesley composed some 6000 hymns)
- “White Christmas” was first sung on Bing Crosby’s radio program on Christmas Day in 1941 but really got popular after he sang it in the 1942 movie, “Holiday Inn.”
- The song won an Academy Award as the Best Original Song that year.
- It touched the heart and soul of a nation deeply engaged by this time in World War II, especially troops far from home, as it made them think of Christmas and home. I think of the words of Charles Dickens when I hear White Christmas because it does exactly what he describes: “Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!”
- It is the best selling single ever in any music category, with over some 100 millions copies in its various versions.
- It is considered by many as the number one Christmas song – a song inspired by Christmas, and written by a Jewish man. But when you think about it, that’s quite appropriate, for Christmas is about the birth of a little Jewish baby who continues to touch and transform the world.
I came to the song and the movie with fresh ears and eyes this year. What I discovered was a challenge, “What are we dreaming of this Christmas? What is the greatest longing of our hearts?”