“White Christmas,” Irving Berlin’s wistful ode to homesickness, was originally meant to be a parody, according to Jody Rosen, author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song. Inspiration for the song came during the years that Berlin was working in Hollywood. It amused him to watch people celebrating a traditional winter holiday while sunning themselves poolside. So, tongue in cheek, he opened with this:
The sun is shining,
The grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills, LA.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.
When Berlin realized that the song had actually turned out to be a sincere expression of the almost universal emotions that are evoked by the Christmas holiday, he had that opening verse suppressed.