1943: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

December seems to be the fastest month of the year. “I can’t believe it’s already December!” is a phrase that arises during this time of year. It is a month of excitement, anticipation and wonderment for the children of the world. For parents and caregivers, it is as well, but with an added cost. Christmas shopping adds up, especially when a large family is in town. In this neighbourhood, many of us do our part to shop local, see what our businesses in our own backyard have, and at times, we are unable to find what we are looking for. It all depends on what it is that the kids are wishing for, perhaps it simply is not available in town.

So off we go to our preferred larger city of Kelowna or Kamloops. Maybe some friends and family live in those areas and its hitting two birds with one stone; a little shopping and a visit with a loved one you haven’t seen in a while. Then it is a mad dash back home to store the gifts in a special spot that no one knows about, until you have time to wrap it.

If Murphy’s Law makes a cameo appearance, the car has to go into the shop and it will be several hundred dollars more than originally expected. Maybe there is a bit of a sour taste in a family members mouth because you want to host the Christmas dinner rather than them, or the other way around. Maybe family is 3000 miles away, and getting there this year is not in the budget, so the spirit of Christmas is not as prominent as it would be if surrounded by the walls you know and the people you love.

In 1943, Bing Crosby recorded I’ll Be Home For Christmas; the lyrics were written in the form of a letter from a soldier over seas during the war. He writes to his family how he will be making his way home, back into their arms, and to make sure the holidays are ready for his arrival. A soldier who is away from his family and friends; the ones he holds near and dear, wishing for presents under the tree and hanging mistletoe, perhaps for a long desired kiss from his wife. The song is a beautiful, warm sentiment of love and merriment, a man ready to come home and see his family and friends, if only in his dreams.

It is hard to imagine for some of us born in a different generation, that only 74 years ago soldiers were overseas, fighting a battle, losing friends and surviving horrific scenarios we have only come to vaguely understand through the cinema screen.

Not to say there are not dire situations today, of course there are, but to take that moment and realize that out of all the trials and tribulations of today, Christmas for families in 1943 would be a much harder and emotional day for many. Wondering if their family member was ever going to come home and watch their own children open a present or sit by a fire with their significant other.

I for one am glad that my Christmas will not be “only in my dreams.”