Christmas, the Laine Way

A Christmas Recording

With the anniversary of the beginning of World War II, I began to ponder a special song Frankie Laine recorded pertaining to another war—the Korean War. That first Christmas in 1950, after the conflict had begun, there was a special concern for the children of the war regions. Frankie recorded “Merry Christmas Everywhere,” released by Mercury Records in 1950. The song is dedicated to the world’s children. It has been said that children suffer the most when tragedy strikes. Frankie’s Christmas song appeals to listeners to wish the wartime children a Merry Christmas. It has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. Frankie actually wrote the song along with Jerry Velasco.

A Christmas Movie

I have a favorite Christmas movie. The movie is The Bishop’s Wife. I watch it every year because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. My wife, Marlene, loves the movie as well. Last year, we purchased the movie on DVD, so we could watch it in our theater room.

The movie, released in 1947, is a Samuel Goldwyn production starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. Niven plays the role of a bishop attempting in earnest to obtain the funds to build a grandiose cathedral. Young plays his wife. The plot of the movie, set at Christmastime, seems to infer that the bishop has left his humble parish and moved to a more upscale and prominent area of the city. It is here he intends to build his stately cathedral. As he asks for divine guidance, he is forthwith sent an angel to guide him. Grant is the angel, Dudley.

Dudley is divinely charismatic and the movie takes the innocence of an angel and creates something special, including humorous scenes—not funny, but soft and chuckle worthy. The movie is beautifully done with all the charm of America in the 1940s. The greatest appeal of the movie is that no one knows that Dudley is an angel—only the bishop, who remains skeptical until later in the movie. Dudley is introduced as the bishop’s new assistant.

At the end of the movie, the Dudley appoints himself with task of typing the script of the bishop’s Christmas Eve service, which was assigned to the bishop’s secretary. This allows the secretary to finish her last-minute Christmas shopping. Of course, Dudley uses the typewriter in a divinely magical way. And Dudley writes his own words in place of the bishop’s script.

The bishop delivers the sermon on Christmas Eve to his parishioners. He is befuddled as he knows what he is reading is not his writing, but he’s on the spot, so he reads as written.

It is the story of an empty stocking. The first Christmas story about the baby Jesus has never been forgotten. We now celebrate with gifts. All the stockings are filled, except one. We have even forgotten to hang it up. It is the stocking of the baby born in a manger. It is His birthday we are all celebrating. The oration asks us what He would wish for most, and . . . “let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance—all the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.”

 

With the beautiful message of this wonderful movie to guide us, let us each fill a stocking for the baby Jesus this Christmas based upon the musical joy and legacy that we’ve all enjoyed from Frankie Laine. Let’s each place joy—the joy that Frankie’s music has given us. We could add a dash of humility. Frankie was always very kind to his fans. Sincerity is something Frankie gave us through his emotional heartfelt vocal style. Toss in inspiration and spiritual. Some of Frankie’s best recordings included this musical genre. And include charity. Frankie gave much of himself to causes that were close to his heart, from the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund to Meals on Wheels and his “Old Shoes” campaign for those in need.

 

We need only present our stocking stuffers through noble thoughts. Each will be timeless and precious gifts to the Savior. Enjoy this Christmas with loved ones. May each and every one of us be happy in and live our lives to the fullest—the way Frankie did.

 

 

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About the Author:

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Craig Cronbaugh, Director of the Legislative Information Office with the Legislative Services Agency at the Iowa State Capitol. As famed singer Frankie Laine’s special friend and a collector of Laine’s recordings and career memorabilia, Craig has written articles; has written, produced, directed, and hosted a distinctive radio program; and has appeared on Iowa statewide television regarding his Frankie Laine avocation. Craig has been highlighted briefly and has been given a research screen credit in the 2003 internationally distributed documentary Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Craig’s book, a memoir, Reaching for a Star, featuring his friendship with Laine, was published in 2005.