STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Now, that DVD we discussed about the filmmaker with his father involved the same technique that we will hear in this next part of the program. We've been listening to StoryCorps, as across the country, loved ones talk with each other. Sometimes people tell the most important stories to the ones who know them best.
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Marie DeSantis recently talked with her grandson about Christmas in 1944. It was during World War II. DeSantis was 18, living with her family in Staten Island, New York. And she recalls how their holiday changed with news from the war in Europe.
Ms. MARIE DeSANTIS (Resident, Staten Island, New York): My brother Joe was in the service, of course, he was fighting in Germany. A telegram came saying that he was missing in action. And so, I was afraid to tell my parents and I ran to get my three sisters who were at church. And I said, you have to come home, mama and papa need you. We were so upset, my sister, instead of getting in the car, she ran home, ran all the way home alongside the car.
It was the worst news you could get. It was getting closer to Christmas and my mother says, we won't be able to have a Christmas tree this year because Joey is not here. We don't know if he's alive. We don't anything. So we're going to not have a Christmas tree. And then Christmas Eve, a letter came from Joey: I'm in a hospital. I'm all right. I'll come home soon. And by now, you must be putting up the Christmas tree.
And my mother says, oh, look what happened. He's telling us to decorate the tree. And my brother John, he says, mom, guess what? Last night, when I came home from work, I got a Christmas tree and I put it under the porch because I thought maybe you would change your mind and we could have the Christmas tree. So we put it up and we decorated it, this one is for you, Joe. And it turned out nice.
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INSKEEP: That's Marie DeSantis in New York City. And we can tell you that Joey Valenta(ph) did eventually come home. StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And you can listen to more of them at npr.org.
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Mr. DICK ROBINSON (Singer, Bandleader): (Singing) I want you for Christmas, anything that Santa would bring could never compare with you.
INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
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