Saturday, December 19, 2020

Yuletide - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I've been thinking a lot lately about wartime era Christmas songs.  An odd start I know, but particularly relevant this year.  White Christmas.  I'll Be Home For Christmas.  And especially for me this year, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

The song was originally written in 1943 for the upcoming MGM movie musical Meet Me in St. Louis.  While the lyrics have changed considerably over the years and brightened quite a bit, the original song conveyed a darker present, with an eye towards a happier future.  In the film, the family is distraught facing their father's plan to move them to New York City for a job promotion.  Such a move would take them away from St. Louis on the eve of the 1904 World's Fair, and possibly make this their last Christmas all together, as the elder daughters will soon be married.  

The original version of the song reflects the torn nature of the family.  Caught between depression and hope.  Not knowing what the new year will bring.  Hoping for something better in the next year.  And wanting assurances that they will be together.  You can see this in how some of the lyrics changed.  What we largely know as "From now on our troubles will be out of sight" and "From now on our troubles will be miles away" were originally "Next year all our troubles..."  Instead of "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough," the lyrics read "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow."

I think we can all relate to those lyrics this year.  Thanks to the pandemic, we have a lot of people having a difficult Christmas season.  Unable to be with all the loved ones they would like to.  Uncertain if they will be able to keep their employment, or wondering if they will be able to find employment in the new year.  Hoping 2021 brings something better.  Takes our troubles out of sight and miles away.  Lets us all be together.  

The beauty of these wartime Christmas songs is that they remind us that Christmas is ultimately a season of hope.  The thrill of hope, from that first Christmas to today.  Whether your Christmas this year looks exactly like you want it to or not, we all have that hope that Christmas will bring something better.  

I pray that you find that hope this year.  That next year your troubles will be miles away.  That next year your troubles will be out of sight.  That sooner rather than later, we will all be together.  And that we can muddle through until then. 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, now.

If you have never read or heard the original lyrics to the song, I've included them below.

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be
Out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
Miles away

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were near to us
Will be dear to us once more

Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

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