***Appeared in a Newsletter by Caleb Pirtle III on Dec 9, 2022. I found it so fascinating that I wanted to share it with you all. https://calebandlindapirtle.com
The Story Behind White Christmas
He had no business writing the song. He had no business writing about Christmas. He was a Russian. He was a Jew. During the dark days of December, he was a melancholy man. But from the heart of Irving Berlin came the one song that struck a nostalgic chord in America during 1942, grabbed the soul of a nation, and has never let go.
The Berlin home always had a Christmas tree, stockings, a turkey, and plum pudding. It was time for celebration. It was a time for family. And no one loved his family more than Irving Berlin. In the dark days of December, he was a melancholy man.
Irving Berlin could not read a note of music, yet he composed more than a thousand songs, and four hundred of them became American standards, songs like Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Easter Parade, Cheek to Cheek, No Business Like Show Business, and God Bless America.
He was the master. As composer Jerome Kern would say, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music. Irving Berlin is American music.” He was working in Beverly Hills. He was alone and lonely. He missed his family. And he sat down one night and worked on a new song. But it didn’t quite capture the way he was feeling. So, Berlin threw the lyrics in a trunk and could have forgotten them. He didn’t.
A couple of years later, Berlin found them and worked throughout the night, writing, re-writing, revising, and rearranging the words. The melody was already locked in his head. The next morning, he walked into his office and told his secretary, “Grab a pen,” he said. “You need to take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written.”
She typed the words for White Christmas. It was slow. It was nostalgic. It was melancholy. But then, during the dark days of December, Irving Berlin was a melancholy man.
Bing Crosby sang White Christmas for the first time on his NBC radio show. He sang it, and a heartbroken nation listened. He sang White Christmas for the first time on Christmas day. He sang White Christmas for the first time eighteen days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and left America weeping for its missing and its dead.
Armed Forces Radio was swamped with requests for the song. For the fighting men, it was their first winter, their first Christmas in trenches of Germany, on the islands surrounding Japan. They were homesick, and White Christmas gave them a vision of home, if only for eight lines, fifty-four words, and sixty-seven notes. It was enough.
White Christmas was a song of hope with a melancholy melody, but, during the dark days of December, Irving Berlin was a melancholy man.
He had lost his son on Christmas Day in 1928. The boy was only three days old. And Berlin spent every Christmas for the rest of his life beside the grave of his son in New York. Berlin sat in the December chill dreaming of a White Christmas that would never be.
Poppa Johns’ Christmas Village.
There are dates that stick out in most people’s memory, your birthday, maybe those of your family and even close friends. An anniversary would likely be in that category. Some people remember special days when they started a job, went on remembered holidays, or met a new love. All good dates that might remain in a person’s memory.
For me, Dec 1st is such a day.
First of all, my beloved pops who we called Poppa John was born on that day. Not only had he been a fantastic father, he was also my hero. A man who never stopped climbing life’s mountains and teaching those below that we could accomplish whatever we strived for. He grew up on a farm in the 1920s, the oldest of four children, lost his father when he was thirteen, and worked from then with his mother, my Baba, to take care of the family’s many responsibilities. Eventually, he became a mechanic and brought up three children of his own on that paltry salary. Worked like a demon all those years until in his retirement, he took a cooking course at the local college and became a bull cook, getting up at five am to get to the restaurant that happily hired a man who didn’t know the meaning of slowing down. Finally, my mom said, “enough is enough”. But retirement didn’t sit well for him. Soon, he’d taken a short course was creating beautiful stain glass lamps and Christmas villages… and loving every minute of being so busy.
When my own hard-working husband began dealing with his cancer, a man I adored like my dad, he also won my admiration. Never a complaint in all the years of his remission. When that passed, and the cancer began again to crawl through his bones, he still wore a smile every day, cooked our suppers, and made me laugh – made my life wonderful. When his time came to say goodbye, he drifted away peacefully on Dec 1st. Now I don’t know about you, but I somehow knew that Poppa John, a man he also loved, waited in the wings for him. The two probably went off together as they did in life, to enjoy a drink, lots of jokes, and a blab-fest they’d both thoroughly enjoyed.
As that day approaches, in their memory, I intend to cook my dad’s favorite meal (perogies) and drink my hubby’s favorite cocktail, rye and coke in a tall glass filled with ice…. and remember all the times we’ve done that in the past.
Because I have the ability to create stories using personality traits from those that I love, I dedicated books for both of these men. Then I wrote characters that resembled them, and they became endearing heroes for the readers too.
Poppa John’s book is called Special Agent Charli – It was a total joy to remember him in this story.
Special Agent Charli Madison can’t get a break. After the stress of her last horrific assignment, all she wants is to spend time vacationing with her Gramps in Ft. Lauderdale. Plans go awry & she’s forced into witness protection, guarding a teenage girl who’s the only person able to identify a notorious killer.
To make matters worse, she’s forced to accept the womanizing local FLPD Major as her fictitious fiancé, the man who’ll be her backup on the dangerous mission.
Heaven knows, she doesn’t deserve this mess…
My husband’s book is called Special Agent Murphy – This one ripped my heart out and had me falling for him all over again.
Murphy & his chatty rookie partner, Kayti, get caught up in the kidnapping of a teenager & the teen’s troubles pulls at the heartstrings he keeps hidden. Fighting the budding attraction for Kayti, he wonders how he can be so attracted to a trouble-magnet female who drives like a granny, fights like a trained assassin, and has him questioning his single lifestyle.
Recently, a friend asked me why I write so many Christmas romances. [I’m working on #24]. I thought back to my earliest Christmas memories and why this holiday is so special to me that I start singing Christmas carols in July. It turns out that I’m nostalgic for all the Christmases past and the family fun times and memories.
Back in the 1960s, Christmas thoughts started with the arrival of the Sears Wish Book. We would take turns flipping through the entire catalog and dog ear the pages. Although we rarely got anything from the actual wish book, it was fun to keep hoping for that rock tumbler and be happy with the clothes or books found under the tree. I do remember getting the Lite Brite set and Spirograph. Even though my family wasn’t religious, we were always reminded that it was Jesus’s birthday first but that He gave gifts to us.
Back then, we worked on Christmas plays at school and made ornaments during crafts time. I was in the orchestra and we played Christmas music like Little Town of Bethlehem. The Christmas cartoons, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, the Little Drummer Boy, etc. were always highly anticipated. We’d go to our friends’ houses to watch them together. Sometimes, the parks and recreation would show a movie and have a tree lighting. Everyone wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” and our mailboxes were flooded with Christmas cards and letters.
Christmas morning was always exciting as it was hard to go to sleep the night before. Even though we lived in a small tract home in Southern California, my siblings and I wondered if we could hear the reindeer land on the roof. We were worried that my mother stored books and magazines in the fireplace and there wouldn’t be any room for Santa. Never thought what my friends who had actual fires in their fireplace would do.
On Christmas morning, we had to eat breakfast and get dressed first before venturing into the living room where the tree stood. That was the rule at our house. No opening presents in PJs. After the pictures are taken, the carols sung, we’d open our presents and yell out our thank yous to aunts and uncles [even if they weren’t there]. People would drop by [they didn’t need to call or text before coming], and then we’d run outside to share our toys with our friends. Some would have new bikes. Others skateboards, a baseball, or a board game. In the background, my dad played albums by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. I also remember Mele Kalikimaka was one of my favorite songs and imagined Christmas in Hawaii [wrote about it in Seashells & Mistletoe].
What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? Why do you like to read Christmas romances all year round? What do you miss about Christmases past? What do you look forward to on Christmas day?
I love living everyone’s Christmas fantasies by reading Christmas romances and love stories. This year, we at Authors’ Billboard have eleven Christmas stories for you in Unforgettable Christmas Miracles. Each author brings a different and interesting perspective to this favorite of all holidays. Mine is crazy and off the deep end. Nick’s Christmas Ride where two irascible Texas Hold’em playing ancestors, three social media narcissists, an old-time fiddler, and a flying car seem kind of normal for Nick Jolly and Hayley Brockman’s unexpected Christmas Creek romance.
Rachelle Ayala is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it’s within the pages of a book.
Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, Christmas Stray received a 2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, and Playing for the Save got the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in Realistic Fiction.
She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She lives in California with her husband and has three children and two birds.
Investigators discovered that kids who were sent to public pre-schools for early childhood education learned early, but didn’t advance like kids who had been taught at home before they entered school. The kids taught at home kept accelerating past the ones who had been put into public classes where there were many kids. The one on one teaching with a loving parent outshone the public school, where it mainly turned into babysitting, or worse.
If you have a child in today’s government schools, you are fortunate if your child’s teacher finds time to teach phonics “on the side.” The reading materials currently furnished by the schools do actual physical harm that can be observed in brain scans, handicapping the child for life. The government’s own data show that less than a third of its child victims are proficient in any core subject.
The answer to this is:
Don’t wait for the schools. Any teaching done at home is better than what the schools are doing. Teach your child to read and do math before they enter school. It does NOT have to be done regularly or often. A young child soaks up learning at an amazing rate. Start math at age 3, reading at age 4.
Use objects: blocks or sticks or marbles or rocks to teach counting and basic math. “If you have four oranges and give two oranges to your teddy bear, how many oranges will you have left?” Then switch to using an abacus. There are online programs showing you how to use them, starting at age 4. After a while, a four-year-old can visualize the abacus and do complex problems in his head. If you wait until they are older, they can’t do this. For math from K-college, go to Khan academy, free, and includes other sciences.
For reading, go to www.raisingupgiants.wixsite.com/free Start this program at age four and expect huge gains from little effort on your part. It contains four videos plus a small reader. Watch video #1 if you are fearful or doubt you can teach. Otherwise start with video #2. And if you can, at all possible, keep your child out of most public schools. You won’t see any of our leaders sending their kids to them.
A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.