Home For Christmas Again

Does your family tell the same stories, over and over again?  Mine does.  Or my Mom and Dad did.   Oh and in case you haven’t noticed, I do too.

My husband is no doubt rolling his eyes and thanking his lucky stars.  Because  since I started blogging, he is forced to hear fewer repeats of my stories.

To me, the heart and soul of Christmas is Love.  And repeating traditions.  That is what this story means to me.  And even though Christmas is a sadder day than it once was, this story warms my heart.  And I tell it every year.

Here.  If you haven’t read it before, you may need this.

Handkerchief 2

Don’t worry; it’s clean.Google Image.

***

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  If possible, I think that Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

29 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, Growing up, History, Holidays, Love, Missing Folks, Mom, Mom Stories, Music, Taking Care of Each Other

29 responses to “Home For Christmas Again

  1. Not only is the story precious, but so are the pictures. How wonderful. Hope you had a terrific Christmas and will be experiencing a marvelous 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful homecoming. Thanks for tenderly sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1) he was dreamy, holy wow! 2) she was, too! And that story? **Chills** no wonder it gets retold, this story is the kind worth telling over and over again. Thank you for sharing them with us ❤ MJ

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good thing I took your advice and grabbed a tissue before I started reading your wonderful, sweet, and tear-inducing story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is one of those stories you don’t forget. Thank you for sharing it again. It’s worth sharing over and over.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this story. Of course I know and love the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” but why have I never realized it came out during WWII?! Now that’s all I’ll think of when I hear it. What an amazing surprise for your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Okay, I’m a complete wreck after having ready your beautiful story about your parents. I won’t ever be able to listen to “I’ll be home for Christmas” again without tearing up. Lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Heart-warming story. And whether you intended or not, it seems to be another good argument from you, against war, this Christmas season.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember this lovely story and you’re right – hankies all around.

    What a blessing that your parents had one another, and that you had that kind of example of what a good marriage looks like.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I do remember this one, Elyse, and it’s just as lovely the second time around.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Deb

    Lovely story Elyse. Stories such as these are wonderful to hear over and over again, unlike the old football tales and stories of male prowess that seem to radiate when some of my large family get together.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lovely, thank you. What wonderful memories you have of them. And they were both very attractive, but yes, your dad was dream-my! Looks like a charmer, besides.

    My son won’t be home for Christmas this year. I think this is the first time. He didn’t get leave and instead will fly out Saturday for the middle east, likely, and then return on Christmas Eve to his base. He’d hoped to be gone on Christmas day, too, so he wouldn’t be alone for the day, but it didn’t work out. We’ll miss him.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great story. I’d have Russell Crowe play your dad in the movie version!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm. Russel Crowe? I loved him in Gladiator, but I’m drifting from him since Noah! He always seems way too serious.

      In real life, my dad was the Spencer Tracy sort — he was smart and serious AND funny, but mischievous as all hell.

      Like

  14. Yep. Needed the Kleenex. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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