By Lorraine Glowczak
This past weekend was packed with holiday activities that I found myself attending including, craft fairs, Festival of Trees and other events that included the Annual AmFam Holiday Tradition by the Windham Chamber Singers.
I also attended the Old-Fashioned Christmas Carol and Readers’ Theater hosted by Faith Lutheran Church where I got to hear a favorite Christmas song that always brings tears to my eyes – the David Bowie/Bing Crosby rendition of the combined “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” holiday harmony.
Peace is something we want and hope for year-round but especially during the holiday season. But as we know, observe and experience, it seems an impossible dream.
This publication day, December 7, marks 77 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. That morning’s attack has famously become “a day that will live in infamy.”
Of course, I wasn’t alive when this event occurred, but I was alive during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. From that experience and the frightening, tumultuous days that followed, there was very little sense of peace in most Americans’ hearts. I suspect the same was true of those alive on that cold December morning as everyone was preparing for the glorious holiday season.
This is where the juxtaposition of life makes things a bit hazy and confusing – where the lines are fuzzy as we grapple with contradictory ideology. Yes. We all want peace. But sometimes that begs war in order to achieve it.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II was over, peace did reign again in our nation, at least for a while. And it seems the cycle returns again and again - peace, war, peace, war. And, although we face many circumstances today that can render the soul into sadness, for the most part - here in our homes in Windham and Raymond – there is for now – a sense of peace.
There are two ironic and fascinating facts about these two songs – sung together. First, the Little Drummer Boy was written in 1941 – the year of the Pearl Harbor attacks. There is no evidence that the composer/writer of the holiday classic, Katherine Kennicott Davis, wrote it with peace in mind, but as author Penelope Hart wrote on Holidappy.com, “’'Little Drummer Boy' crosses genres, boundaries, borders, beliefs [as stars] like Bing Crosby to rock god guitarist Jimmy Hendrix, from Marlene Dietrich to Johnny Cash” each performed the song. Crossing and accepting boundaries – accepting one another as we are - is one step toward peace and - going out on limb – may also be a preventable measure to war. (Although, I must admit, it’s not always that simple.)
As for the “Peace on Earth” portion of the melody, it was written specifically for Bowie as he performed the song with Bing Crosby in his holiday television special – on September 11, 1977. It’s just simply an interesting fact that may beg some reflection. Again, acceptance and respect of one another may have prevented the attacks on September 11, 2001. And, again – I may be going out on a limb with that suggestion and of course, nothing really is ever that simple.
I wish I could offer some guarantee or some deep and amazing insight regarding a peace that is eternal. But since I can’t, I would like to end with the last verse of “Peace on Earth” lyrics: “I pray my wish will come true. For my child and your child, too. He'll see the day of glory. See the day when men of good will live in peace, live in peace again. Peace on earth, can it be…..can it be.”
May peace be with you and begin with you.