But Jeanie and Terry weren’t gamblers or dealers or mafiosos or lounge singers. The small, dusty sidecar of Las Vegas. Of course, I had my gripes about leavin’. And those rats; they’d nibbled long enough. His name was Mr Hansen. Now, I don’t know what a mosey looks like, but they packed up their house and their clothes and their me, and they moseyed on outta dodge. I knew I was experiencing something different from the others, but I was uplifted so it didn’t matter. And just like that, from sagebrush, slot machines and Elvis to Footloose, Onion Days and Jewel. Now, it would be easy to describe Mr Hansen as brave. And on a frosty December morning, he explained to us the story of the old standard "I’ll Be Home For Christmas". He didn’t just stand out from the rest; He sung out. Population: blink, and you’ll miss it. Dad got a job in the produce department at the Smith’s Food King, which was fitting since he managed to produce six kids: April, Shelley, Amy, Stephanie and my brother Shane were the other five. After all, this was a man who himself had served his country during the Korean war. The other kids were looking for the nearest escape: they couldn’t bear the embarrassment. The desert fort behind my house wasn’t gonna defend itself. This wasn’t a Home Alone movie, so… I went where the sweet’n’sour chicken was cooked, and the ice cold, caffeine-free Coke was just a fridge away. I was in fourth grade at the time, an age when boys start thinking more like men. I mean, I had a life in Henderson. I was wrapped up in it. But not me. This place called Payson, Utah. You don’t let it go. A nine-year-old can’t just stage a sit-in while the rest of the family checks out. She was born there, after all. A tale of a World War II soldier stationed overseas, writing a letter to his family about the return that he may never make. God’s country. "My mother and father spent most of their lives in Henderson, Nevada. I did my best to fit in, and I did as my teachers said, but that year one teacher stood out from the rest. Kenny and Kevin Hebner were just two houses up. He’s eighty six, but sounds like twenty, and though the other kids might find it funny, he’d like to sing his song for you, and if he doesn’t mind I might join in too."
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Oh Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Oh 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 I was nine. I felt the isolation of war. But getting up in front of twenty five nine-year-olds and singing a capella? It was 1990, and Vegas was boomin’, baby! They were just two normal people trying to keep up with the pack in a one-hundred-and-sixteen-degree rat race. And there wasn’t a dull moment: I’d had my first fight, my first crush, my first rodeo, but most importantly my first white Christmas. I couldn’t help myself. I saw it struck deep in him. That’s a whole other kind of bravery altogether. And so, for this here Christmas song, I have a friend I brought along. I felt the power of a song, and that’s the kind of thing that sticks with you. But what could I do? Henderson was just like any other town in America, only with slot machines in the laundromat.