by Locker Room contributor
Some of these Christmas songs that aren’t Christ-focused are still significant and embraceable, if you understand the context under which they were written and sung. My dad reminds that “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was first popular during World War II when he was a little boy.
“It was written from the point of view of a serviceman away from home on Christmas; some stayed away forever,” he writes. “I always think of those men when I hear the song.”
I also found this little history, cited here partially, about the song from the Library of Congress:
In 1943, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” joined “White Christmas” to become one of America’s most popular homegrown holiday songs. Recorded in a rich baritone by Bing Crosby, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” shot to the top ten of the record charts (as “White Christmas” had for Crosby the previous year) and became a holiday musical tradition in the United States.
On October 4, 1943, Crosby recorded “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra for Decca Records. Within about a month of its being copyrighted the song hit the music charts and remained there for eleven weeks, peaking at number three. The following year, the song reached number nineteen on the charts. It touched a tender place in the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were then in the depths of World War II, and it earned Crosby his fifth gold record. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows in both Europe and the Pacific and Yank, the GI magazine, said Crosby accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era.
In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby’s recording of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”