Christmas memories come in different shades. I remember different special and some not so special things from Christmas and Christmas times. Some traditions that I hated as a kid, I've come to have a special regard for as an adult. Then of course there is food. My mom used to make dozens of different kinds of Christmas cookies every year. That was one of those wonderful traditions. The flip side of that was the tradition of ground up soup for Christmas eve. I hated that soup as a kid, but I'll probably go to the store and get the ingredients to make it latter on today or tomorrow. Somehow its part of Christmas.
The boomers were probably the first generation to make TV part of their Christmas tradition. When I was a kid there were all kinds of Christmas specials between Thanksgiving and Christmas on TV. I have no idea how many times I've seen "It's a Wonderful Life", or the different Charlie Brown specials. Every year as a kid they played Bob Hope a lot. Sometimes they had several different movies that he was in on during the week. Sometimes they played these goofy specials with a lot of singing and dancing and other stuff that grown ups seemed to enjoy. We only had 4 channels back then and dad got to chose what was watched so you could watch it and like it, or go to bed early. IF you wanted to fuss about it, you got to go to bed early with a spanking. So Bob Hope it was.
As a kid I remembering thinking, "what did Bob Hope ever do to be included in my Christmas?".
Bob Hope and his traveling USO group spent WWII traveling the world. Day in and day out they gave up their time and bigger bucks in Hollywood to get loaded in and out of military transports, to go and do a show for guys that were bored, scared and waiting for something to happen. In 1944 Bob's show had been working their tails off for the entire war. They were tired and they had earned a couple of days off. A morale officer approached Mr. Hope, would they do a show for the 1st Marines? Those boys had never had a show before, and they were going to invade a place called Palau. Nobody had ever heard of Palau before. Afterwards it would be remembered as the most difficult battle of WWII. Believing that as many of half the boys would be dead shortly after the show, Hope saddled up his troops and made them laugh, cry, remember home and what they were fighting for.
Some songs may have seemed overly sentimental. The skits could have been better. The jokes may have been corny. There were times that more than half the guys couldn't hear the band because the PA sucked. The girls? Some of the girls were just plain all American cute. Some of the girls were some of the hottest women in the world in their day. Some of the girls were famous and some were fill in dancers, but they were all what our boys called DAMES! They were glad to see them.
After the war Hope kept doing the USO shows. WWII finished but then there was Korea and then Vietnam. Bob Hope could have made better money if he stayed in Hollywood instead of doing the USO. Hollywood didn't make him a star. Doing his best for boys that he knew would be dead in hours or days did that.