American service members have long spent holidays in dangerous places, far from family. These days, home is a video chat or Skype call away. But during World War II, packages, letters and radio programs bridged the lonely gaps. For 15 minutes every week, "Canteen Girl" Phyllis Jeanne Creore spoke and sang to the troops and their loved ones on NBC radio.
Cyndy Aafedt (left) owns the El Rancho hotel in Williston, N.D. Jobs in town have been hard to fill. Her employee, Mary Joy Hardt (right), who is from the Philippines, is one of many people with J-1 visas helping to fill retail, hotel and restaurant job openings here.
Credit Meg Luther Lindholm for NPR
Kyle Pfifer works at a McDonald's in Williston, a job he got the same day he applied. He says he turned in his application, got lunch, "and I had a call before I was done eating, and I had a job."
The population boom in Williston, N.D., has been a blessing and a curse for many local businesses. Williston, the fastest growing small city in America, is enjoying an oil boom and has seen its population double in the past two years.
At the city's brand new McDonald's, manager Vern Brekhus struggles every day to maintain his staff of nearly 100 workers.
For KEM's What Christmas Means, the R&B singer wanted to cover several aspects of the season: the birth of Christ, for one, but also Christmas as a "romantic holiday."
"You spend time cuddled up by the fire, warm and cozy with your wife or your husband," KEM tells NPR's David Greene. "You spend more time being intimate with shopping — we're doing things with the kids, we're together. There's a lot of sincerity, a lot of warmth."