By Margaret H. Laing,
December 21, 2020 at 11:35 am
I keep seeing references to the 1943 song "I'll be Home for Christmas" as if other writers are pointing out yes, we'll all be home, let's make our own fun. But those writers are missing the point of the song.
Here (with a little help from LyricFind.com) are the words to the song:
I'll be home for Christmas You can plan on me Please have snow and mistletoe And presents by the tree
Christmas eve will find me Where the love light gleams I'll be home for Christmas If only in my dreams
I'll be home for Christmas You can plan on me Please have some snow and mistletoe And presents by the tree
Christmas eve will find me Where the love light gleams I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
As explained here by Vintage News, the song was meant to portray a U.S. soldier in World War II telling his family he'll be home from The War for Christmas -- "if only in my dreams." In a way, it's a Christmas version of "Memory," the show-stopping tune from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats." The singer is remembering the time he "knew what happiness was" at Christmas, not describing how happy he is.
Bing Crosby had the original hit record, but I first noticed a more recent version; my favorite performance of the song is by Alan Alda, of all people, in a 1973 episode of "MASH." Alda's character, Hawkeye Pierce, is exhausted and trying to find out who's responsible for the Korean War. He remembers several war-related songs, and his rendition of "I'll be Home for Christmas," his voice choked with tears, is appropriately heartbreaking for a character who didn't know when he would go home.
So if you can't go home because of the virus, or because there's no one left to go home to, this might just be the song for you this Christmas. Just think of that "If only in my dreams" as a variation on "Let the mem'ry live again."
Peace and comfort be with you, wherever you are this Christmastime.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.
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I moved to Chicago from the south suburbs in 1986. I have diverse interests, but I love writing about what I'm interested in. Whether it's a personal interest or part of my career, the correct words to get the idea across are important to me. I love words and languages -- French and Scottish words enrich my American English. My career has included years as a journalist and years working in museums, and the two phases were united by telling stories. I'm serious about words and stories. So here I am, ready to tell stories about words and their languages.