WHITE CHRISTMAS Star Danny Kaye Shares Lesson About Loving Your Children

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WHITE CHRISTMAS Star Danny Kaye Shares Lesson About Loving Your Children

By Movieguide® Contributor

In a 1963 essay for Guideposts, WHITE CHRISTMAS star Danny Kaye reflected on a parent’s love for their children, and how to best give it to a son or daughter. 

“Have you ever, as a parent, felt guilty, about your children?” Kaye asked his readers. “Have you ever worried for fear you weren’t giving them enough time, enough love, enough of yourself? If you have (and you’re an unusual parent if you haven’t), I’d like to pass along something I learned some years ago when our daughter Dena was quite small.”

He then talked about his career and how he often had to go away for long stretches of time. His daughter “just didn’t understand” why he had to leave. Kaye remembered playing with her more in the days leading up to a departure and, once he got home, “overwhelm[ing]” her with kisses and presents. 

“I wanted very much to hear her say, ‘I missed you.’ But she never said it,” the actor shared. “Each time I left and each time I returned I sensed a greater withdrawal by Dena.”

While thinking over this issue, Kaye headed out on a tour of Africa and Asia for the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund to raise awareness about diseases like TB, leprosy, malaria, and malnutrition.

“At one point on the trip, I found myself in a hospital in New Delhi, India, in a room where a mother and father sat quietly watching their little son who had just been brought in from the operating room,” Kaye said. 

He continued, “When the boy awoke I expected them to rush toward him. They continued to sit quietly in their corner. The boy looked around and saw them, but said nothing. After a while he called to them, and they came. They touched him gently, never losing the restraint they had on themselves, never showing any fear or concern, though they must have felt both deeply.”

“They attended to his need, and when done returned to sit quietly,” he said. “When he wanted something they saw to it. The boy determined when he needed them and how much he needed them. The parents did not smother him with their love or their fears but they were pillars of strength and comfort and security.”

This moment stayed with Kaye, and when he returned home, he modeled the Indian mother and father’s behavior. When he saw Dena, he “greeted them both with a warm hug and kiss, and on the way home talked easily and casually about ordinary things.”

“I let Dena set the pace and ask the questions. For once I was trying to find out what she wanted, not satisfy what I wanted,” Kaye explained. “When we got home Dena squeezed my hand and said what I had wanted to hear her say for a long time, ‘I missed you, Daddy.’”

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