Bob Hope has spent a lot of Christmases away from home entertaining American servicemen and women, but that hasn't stopped the Hope family from celebrating the holiday in a big way - for the past 61 years.

"Our Christmas celebrations last from three days to 10 - if Bob is entertaining servicemen and service women far from home," Delores Hope told Vernon Scott in an article in the current issue of Good Housekeeping. "There is Christmas Eve - Christmas Day, when we all attend church services; and the day after Christmas, which can be stretched out until the day after New Year's. It's a wonderful opportunity to catch up on family activities, news and just plain fun."Mrs. Hope added that probably the happiest Christmas she remembered was in 1939, the first one after the couple adopted Linda, their oldest child, who today produces Bob Hope's Christmas TV specials.

Bob Hope pointed to a photo of Linda at about age 5, with Jerry Colonna - Hope's longtime comedy sidekick, in the background.

"The Colonnas came to all our Christmas dinners," Hope said. "In those days, Bing Crosby lived nearby and he and his four boys would come by the house to sing Christmas carols. Wonderful days."

While Hope sometimes found himself on a movie location at Christmas, it wasn't until World War II that he began entertaining the troops.

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"Bob didn't start doing the Christmas shows overseas until 1947," Mrs. Hope said. "During the war, however, he flew to Alaska to entertain our boys at that outpost. I went with him on six or seven of those trips."

Hope recalled one of the more memorable Christmases with the troops, saying:

"I won't forget the time Dolores and I flew to Saudi Arabia to do a show for the troops during Operation Desert Shield. On the first day there, we stopped by a big contingent of men out in the middle of the sun and sand in the desert. I asked, `Where are you guys from?' And they said, `Twenty-nine Palms.' I said, `C'mon, you mean to tell me we travel halfway around the world to find out you're 10 minutes from our house in Palm Springs?' "

Dolores told the men when they got back they must visit the Hopes' home - and the following year they did entertain the troops at home.

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