Paul E. Anna: High Points
December 23, 2010
I apologize for my rant last week about the “24/7, all Christmas carols, all the time” play lists on radio stations and in stores throughout the nation. I was simply having a bad day, having come down with a particularly nasty bout of Christmas Carol-itis. Those of you who read the rant no doubt recognized the symptoms of one who was carol impaired.
As if I had to serve penance for my crime I had a particularly sad Friday, the day the story ran. At around 6 p.m. that evening, when I finally had a chance to sit down and order a beer to cry in, I came across the print version of the screed and it became apparent that the catalyst for my misfortune was my own bad karma. We reap what we sow, especially in the holiday season.
So, with that in mind and a desire to have a better Friday this week, I am going to write in praise about the carol that has always been my favorite: “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”
The song, a hit for Bing Crosby in 1943, smack dab in the middle of the second World War, has always touched me in just the right way around the holidays. It is syrupy sweet in both the lyrics and the melody, but it resonates with anyone who longs for their home at Christmastime.
Aside from the heart-catching refrain, the song is a favorite because it is largely non-denominational. Sure, the lyrics include the line “please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree,” but the real capper is “I’ll be home for Christmas – if only in my dreams.” It is about the longing, a universal feeling that anyone who wants to be with their loved ones but can’t because of time, space and distance, knows. It is an emotion that can be felt by Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or Wiccan, as easily as it can by a Christian.
When Crosby sang the song, and Crosby could make any song seem sad, you can imagine how it hit people. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were in the tropics or the deserts or on the front lines in Europe. Each one wanted nothing more than to be home for Christmas and, no doubt, they went there in their dreams whenever the song was played.
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Perhaps the best holiday commercial of all time is one produced by Miller Beer in 1977 that plays the song while a team of horses draws a sled down a snow-covered road. The sleigh ride, at dusk on what is obviously Christmas Eve, winds its way past a great red barn and through a town with holiday shoppers waiving to the sleigh, before finally stopping in front of a house with a Christmas tree lit in the window. There are no lyrics, just a piano and a string section, but it has always made me want to visit that house for Christmas Dinner. Thirty-three years later the commercial is still running and you may catch it this Saturday on the NFL games.
I will not be in my home for Christmas this year; rather, on the road with a flight to Philadelphia on Christmas Day. But I wish you best wishes and close with one other line that may too be appropriate: “There is no place like Home.”
Especially if you live in Aspen.
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