One of the saddest aspects of our COVID-19 experience is the changes it's made in our holiday celebrations with loved one. A lot of us will be missing the bustle and turmoil of a houseful of merrymakers, including excited kids with their treasures and a room full of discarded wrapping paper.

I came across an old pop song that reminds us of another time when Christmas celebrations were put on hold.

In 1943, as World War II raged and so many people were away from home for the holidays, lyricist Kim Gannon provided the words to Walter Kent's music for "I'll Be Home for Christmas," recorded that year by Bing Crosby.

It starts out with all the trappings of a traditional Christmas ballad — snow, mistletoe, presents, etc.

But then, with his last few words, the lyricist turns it into a lament:

"I'll be home for Christmas. If only in my dreams."

I hope your dreams of the holidays are pleasant ones, and next year ends with us all together once more.

Risky business

After a reader told of a toxic liquid used in those bubbly Christmas tree lights that were once popular, we heard from Bill Huey with this remembrance:

"My father always maintained that the bubble lights were too dangerous for a Christmas tree.

"I would open up his shotgun shells to get ammo for my slingshot.

"How did I ever live this long?"

The christening

Mickey Christensen says, "Your mention of Christmas trees brought to mind a happening that occurred years ago when my son was about 7-8 years old.

"We decided to go to a hunting lease by St. Francisville to cut our Christmas tree.

"The next school day my wife was carpooling my son and his friend to school. His friend said his family had bought a Christmas tree, a Scotch pine.

"My son replied we had cut ours in the woods, and he was sure his dad would pour Scotch on it."

Mellow yellow

Saturday's story about speeding up for yellow traffic lights generated some reactions:

— Fred Kroenke, of Baton Rouge, says, "Many years ago, when my eldest daughter was in kindergarten at The Runnels School, the teacher was testing the children on the meaning of the rules of the road.

"When my daughter was asked about a yellow light, she immediately extended her right arm and shouted, 'Hold on.'

"Now where do you suppose she learned that?"

— Tommy Windham says speeding up for yellow lights is simply defensive driving:

"I have found in the 15 years I have lived in Baton Rouge the best answer is speed up and cross the intersection, because more than likely the guy behind you plans on running the red light."

Special People Dept.

— Iris Newton, of Slidell, celebrated her 101st birthday Dec. 4. She moved to Baton Rouge from Adelaide, South Australia, as a war bride in 1944, traveling via troop ship to Los Angeles, then on a train to Baton Rouge.

— Josephine and Carroll "Butch" Daigle, celebrated their 66th anniversary Friday, Dec. 11. They are former owners of Fairwood Food Center in Gonzales, the first in the area to have self-service gasoline service.

Nuts to you

Peter Rayot, of Gretna, says, "I went to New Jersey in 1987 to work. Being born there, I mistakenly thought they could pronounce words in English. I had to inform them that a 'pecan' was a nut, and a 'pee-can' was…something else.

"Which leads us to beer. In the mid '60s I lived in the French Quarter. Parking meters there charged you a nickel for 15 minutes.

"The pop-tops from Jax, Dixie and other beers were a perfect fit for these meters (or so I was told )."

Too much to ask

I'm not sure, but I think I sense a touch of sarcasm in David Kneiling's historical reference:

"At Valley Forge all they had to endure was starvation and freezing. If, instead, the intense discomfort of wearing a mask was forced on them, they probably would have deserted and we'd all be speaking English now."

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.