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20# The true story behind “I’ll be Home for Christmas”

4 min read

Here’s the surprising history behind your favorite Christmas Carols!
What if “The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Frosty and the “One Horse Open Sleigh” had nothing to do with Christmas?
Singing Christmas songs goes hand in hand with baking Christmas treats, listening our favorite Christmas tales, watching our favorite Christmas movies, and not only.
Like everything around this period of the year, everything has a story.
From songs that have been saved from being erased forever to not really knowing for sure where a song came from, here is the history of a few Christmas Carols you know and sing still today!

Enjoy our Advent Calendar 2022!

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🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 5 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄

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It’s impossible, during the Christmas season, to miss something that does not include a reference to the song “I’ll be home for Christmas.”
It is one of the season’s most beloved carols, and royalties from the song are given back to St. Lawrence University, in New York, each time it is played on the radio.
J. Kimball “Kim” Gannon, a graduate of St. Lawrence in 1924, composed “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” along with Walter Kent.
It was not this guy, however, who made the song popular.
It was Bing Crosby, who also struck holiday gold with his recording of another Chrismas favorite, “White Christmas“, who first recorded the song in 1943 that became a top-10 hit during the mid-1940s, as Americans were in the midst of World War II, and the lyrics resonated with soldiers longing to be home, “if only in my dreams.”
Kim and Walter had approached several other singers to record “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” but they all rejected the song because it was so crushingly sad. When Kim sang it to Bing Crosby during a golf outing, however, he agreed to record it on October 1, 1943, and the rest is history.

During World War II, Bing Crosby was one of the most popular entertainers in the United States, and the soldiers in the audience begged him to sing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” regardless of the season.
Not by chance, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was written well in that time, when an estimated 16 million Americans, or 11% of the population, were serving in the armed forces.
There was hardly a home in the country that didn’t have a conspicuously empty place at the dinner table during the holiday season, and the loneliness of being separated during Christmas was universally felt. The melodic longing of a man stuck far away from home and hoping to return for Christmas spoke not only to the soldiers serving on the front lines but their loved ones on the home front as well.

The final line of the song, “If only in my dreams”, has been the subject of some debate.
Some believe it simply means the narrator suspects he’ll dream of being home for the holidays while circumstances inevitably keep him away, but others interpret the line to mean he believes he’ll never make it home at all and the only place he’ll be there for Christmas ever again is in his mind. However, as much of a bummer as this interpretation adds to an already sad song, it was a harsh reality for the 416,800 soldiers who celebrated their last Christmas before the war was over.

Interestingly, although the song was beloved by soldiers and their families alike, the B.B.C. banned “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” from its playlist for the duration of the war at the urging of U.K. military officials. They feared it would make their soldiers sad as the holiday season approached, and sad people don’t fight so well!

In any case, our Kim Gannon is also given credit for writing the alma mater for St. Lawrence. In his will he declared that the University is to be given a portion of his royalties from all his compositions. And so, since September 2000, it has gained nearly $500,000 from the royalties of his music. Kim died in 1974.

I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it’s a long road back
I promise you
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
If only in my dreams

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🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 5 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄

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MORE STORIES
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2018
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2019
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2020
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2021

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