Johnny Gondesen got to play a live version of "Christmas Is Here" on a radio station in Houston on Dec. 4
Christmas came early for one Texas great-grandfather, whose wish was to hear the holiday song he wrote in the 1960s finally make its debut on the radio.
Back in 1965, Johnny Gondesen wrote the catchy holiday tune “Christmas Is Here,” which was inspired by his children. Nearly 55 years later, Gondesen finally got to perform the festive track on Houston’s KRBE’s The Roula & Ryan Show.
“My goal is to get the song all over the world,” Gondesen, 83, told CNN. “I would like all the children, especially at Christmastime, to be able to hear it and learn how to sing it.”
A former country band musician, the Cypress great-grandfather said he first started working on the song after beginning a family with his high school sweetheart.
“We’d drive to Houston for Christmas shopping, and there were tree lots along the Gulf Freeway. The kids would cry ‘ho-ho-ho’ when they saw the Christmas trees. I said, ‘Ho-ho-ho. What can I do with that?'” Gondesen recalled to ABC affiliate KTRK.
He then came up with the idea of adding a “hee-hee-hee” to follow the “ho-ho-ho,” which inspired him to pen more of the Christmas-themed lyrics. Soon, he was recording the catchy song with the help of his bandmates.
After turning it into a 45 record, Gondesen would give away copies of the song, with hopes of it one day being played on the radio.
“I would ask people if they had young children. They told me their kids loved it,” he explained, adding that despite his efforts, the song never made it big.
“We’d sing it every place we went,” he added to CNN.
But things changed when Gondesen’s children and grandchildren recently got involved.
In 2014, the kids decided to help Gondesen by uploading the song to YouTube along with a video of him in a Santa suit and a photo of his grandchildren holding up a sign that read ‘Help our Grandpa feel famous,’ urging people to download the track.
“It isn’t like something you hear nowadays,” Gondesen explained to CNN. “It’s got the sound of that age to it.”
His son, Johnny Jr., echoed his sentiments about the tune becoming a Christmas favorite.
“It’s innocent, and it’s a simple song kids love,” Johnny Jr. told KTRK. “Why not when I flip on Spotify and hit my Christmas playlist have his song come up right next to Bing Crosby?”
“I think Dad’s song can be a staple,” he added to CNN. “There’s something innocent about that song — it reminds you of when you were a child.”
Gondesen’s determination to have the track played on the radio continued when he sought out a copyright for the song a few years ago, KTRK reports. Finally, his efforts paid off when the holiday tune caught the attention of a nearby radio station.
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On Dec. 4, Gondesen was invited to visit and play the song on the air in their studio for the very first time. The moment was extra special for the great-grandfather, who waited nearly his entire life to achieve the family-driven accomplishment.
“I feel wonderful,” he said on KRBE’s The Roula & Ryan Show shortly after receiving a round of applause.
Gondesen said he hopes the song will bring a sense of nostalgia and joy for adults and children alike.
“It’s a song that makes children happy, reminds us of a simpler time, about the joy of the season,” he told KTRK. “I want them to experience that.”