It is a truth universally acknowledged that most people want to be home or with loved ones for the December holidays. Historically (and in the modern era), that isn’t always possible.
One Christmas song recorded in 1943 addressed that reality with touching nostalgia. It’s a sympathetic song without getting depressing or too melancholy. It comes from the World War II era (joining another hit song – “White Christmas”) in a treasury of historical songs from the mid-20th Century that are still played and enjoyed.
Today – as the second song in the 2016 series You’re Singing History – we present “I’ll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams).”Christmas – 1943
It was the third year of war Christmas for America, and the fifth for Britain. World War II occupied almost everyone’s thoughts. Many loved ones were away from home, serving overseas or far from the “home fires.” And there would be another Christmas before the war was over.
Bing Crosby’s hit song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams)” expressed the feelings of troops and echoed back to the lonely homefront. It was in the Top Ten Hit Songs for the year, boosted morale, and reflected a temporary hope. Someday, the war would be over, but for now…there were dreams.
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” continues to resonate with modern military members and civilians who aren’t able to be with their loved ones. It promises an individual a bit of holiday cheer and warmth through memories and anticipation.
The song features in another important historical event. In December 1965 – aboard the spacecraft Gemini 7 – astronauts Jim Lovell and Frank Borman asked NASA to play “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” for them as they flew back toward earth. They returned on December 18th…just in time for Christmas!
The Lyrics – Sad or Encouraging? You Decide…
Afraid it would wreck the military morale, BBC refused to broadcast the song during World War II. However, it was one of the most requested songs at American USO shows – productions which brought entertainers and holiday cheer to U.S. military stationed overseas. Looking at the lyrics, I can understand why it was banned and popular.
The words were written by James Gannon and co-written with Buck Ram, and the tune was composed by Walter Kent. Bing Crosby recorded the song on October 1943; it was released later in the year.
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
Enjoy The Music
Remembering all our U.S. troops who won’t be home for Christmas this year…thank you for your service to our country! Dream of home, and we’ll remember you too…
P.S. Do you have any special memories associated with this song?