The song was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism, commercial protests, and a concerted multi-media campaign that started with the couple’s famous public sleep-in during their honeymoon period of 1969. During the height of their campaign, they rented billboard space in twelve major cities around the world for the display of black and white posters that declared,’ WAR IS OVER! If you want it-Happy Christmas’.
Recognising the accessibility and popular appeal that made his 1971 single, ‘Imagine’ a commercial success compared to the other songs he had released up to that point, Lennon concluded, "Now I understand what you have to do: Put your political message across with a little honey."
And so, Christmas time has come around again. Christmas is that magical time of the year when hope for a better tomorrow can be found in the promise of a newborn star. It is that time during December when the smallest amount of generosity possesses the power to enter and soften the hardest of hearts and bring warmth into the coldest of climates. An old person who still loves Christmas is a person who never lost the magic of Christmas that all children possess. They are adults who still treasure their childhood memories of days gone by. They are able to recall memorable childhood experiences that all the mental power in the entire universe could never erase in the happy heart of one loving person.
I recall my early Christmases in West Yorkshire after my parents migrated from Ireland in the mid-1940s. I remember Christmas being a picture postcard of seasonal delight when it snowed. The white magic of the fallen sky rested on old rooftops nearby and when the snow was at its heaviest, it was as though each rooftop, at its centre, bowed in respect to the passerby below. The seasonal snow would transform the harsh, rugged landscape of the nearby mining village of Liversedge as the soft white flakes fell to the ground like small pieces of confetti from a compassionate Christmas sky; The soft snowfall would gently remind neighbours both close and distant, and occupants of one household and the next of the 'Christmas Message'. This seasonal message was one of goodwill, telling all that the time to heal festering wounds, strengthen fragile relationships, and forgive and forget was at hand.
Inside the the small tied-cottage my mining father rented from his colliery employer, my parents would settle their seven children down in the same bedroom and wait until we were all asleep before quietly placing their modest gifts of love (apples, oranges, and loose sweets), stuffed inside Christmas stockings (stockings we wore during the day), at the end of the family bedpost. Such times were the happiest of Christmases I recall from my childhood that followed the ending of the ‘Second World War’
So please learn to be grateful for all the good things we have in our life this Christmas, all the nice people who occupy our world whose dream is to live in peace, under a safe roof and with adequate food in their stomachs and the bellies of their children; plus possess the means to have a job for fair wages. Let our New Year be the year we start to forgive and forget on an individual, local, national and international scale. As Lennon and Ono said, ‘WAR IS OVER. If you want it! Merry Christmas everyone.’.
Love and peace. Bill xxx