Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 12/19/2022
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written by Walter Kent and Buck Ram in 1943 and recorded by Bing Crosby. I believe the best rendition (of course) was by Sinatra.
I think many people today assume this is about making a long trip back to be with family and friends. (The song opens, “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me, please have snow and mistletoe, and presents under the tree.”)
But it was written about soldiers who hadn’t been home in years and for whom there was no guarantee they’d be coming home. These were men mainly in their late teens and twenties, putting themselves in harm’s way to end genocidal threats to humanity. Families in the US (and elsewhere, but I speak through my deceased parents’ memories) were on rationing for food, gas, metals, nylons—all kinds of things. A military car pulling up to a home or a telegram from the government was frightening.
Women entered the workforce. Training became an industry. Most men entering the armed forces had never been more than 25 miles from home. Less than five percent of adults had a college degree in 1940. I’ve been to Pearl Harbor and to Normandy. The understanding of the courage and sacrifice are overwhelming, and the pain that was present at home is hard to comprehend.
We are a flawed people but not a guilty people, not cruel people. We do need to appreciate the value of sacrifice and courage, and not assume entitlement and government protection in place of our own accountabilities.
The song ends: “Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams, I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”
This song is about love of family. May that love surround you in these tumultuous times, and be much more than merely a dream.
Christmas isn’t a season. —It’s a feeling. Edna Ferber
Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. —Dr. Seuss
For it is in giving that we receive. —Francis of Assisi