Jackie Gingrich Cushman

We began getting ready for Christmas the first Friday of December with the purchase of our Christmas tree from our children’s elementary school.

The tree went up the next day in the center of the windows in the back of our living room. My husband carried all the Christmas boxes down from the attic and our children Maggie and Robert and I spent the weekend decorating the tree and the inside of our house while my husband strung the outside lights.

While unpacking one of the boxes, I ran across one of my favorite movies - “White Christmas” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney (who my mother keeps reminding me was George’s aunt) and Vera-Ellen.

The following Friday night, Maggie and Robert opted for watching “White Christmas,” and we have watched it five more times since.

The story about friendship, service, anticipation, love and fulfillment begins on Christmas Eve, 1944, during the war, somewhere in Europe. Capt. Bob Wallace (a successful entertainer played by Crosby) and Priv. Phil Davis (an aspiring entertainer played by Kaye) are entertaining U.S. troops with a song-and-dance act. During it, they pay tribute to Maj. Gen. Thomas F. Waverly, their 151st Division commanding officer who is getting a transfer to the rear.

Once the tribute is over, shelling begins. Davis pulls Wallace to the side as a wall falls, saving Wallace’s life but injuring his arm in the process. While Davis is recovering, Wallace visits to thank him. Davis asks that they team up after the war as an entertainment act. After initially declining, Wallace succumbs to Davis’ entreaties – made as he rubs his injured arm.

Fast forward to post-war America. Their act a success, Wallace and Davis begin producing and directing shows. While in Florida with their show, they receive a letter from “Freckled-Faced Haynes – the dog-faced boy,” an old army buddy, asking them to watch a duet of his sisters, Betty (Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen).

Wallace and Davis go to the club and watch the act. After they meet, Betty tells Wallace that the letter was really from her sister Judy.

When the sheriff and an irate landlord arrive to collect deposit money from the, Wallace and Davis -– dressed as women -- sing and dance Betty and Judy’s “sisters” act as the girls escape.

All four wind up on a train headed from Florida to Vermont, where they have plans to perform, Davis gives the women the hotel room reserved for him and Wallace, while giving Wallace credit for being thoughtful. The women thank Wallace for his generosity, and the four of them look forward to snow, typical in Vermont this time of year.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.