Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (2020)

Norman Rockwell, Union Station, Christmas 1944
Norman Rockwell, Union Station.
Cover for Saturday Evening Post, Christmas 1944

For most of my life, I have not appreciated this popular Christmas song. It seemed too nostalgic and smarmy. But 2020 has made me think of it in a different light, and now I appreciate it as doubtless it was intended to be. For I understand it now as a daring proclamation of hope in the midst of World War II, before the end of the war was in sight. Whether sung then, or now in this pandemic year, it seems less like wistful nostalgia and more like courageous defiance of the obstacles and uncertainties of our world.

Sung by Judy Garland, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” debuted in the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis (IMDB, Wikipedia), a musical released for Christmas 1944. Setting aside the wartime context, even considered solely within the plot of the movie, the song expressed a moment of maximum uncertainty and sorrow: the family, who lived in St. Louis, were facing an impending move to New York because of a change in employment for the father. They were facing the disruption of both new and long-lasting friendships. Their world was turning upside down; they were being uprooted.

When preparing the song, written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, Judy Garland changed a key line. She deleted a dismal lament: “It [this Christmas] may be your last, next year we will be living in the past.” In its place, Garland substituted a hopeful call to take heart: “Let your heart be light, from now on our troubles will be out of sight.”

This classic Christmas song seems as relevant for us in the pandemic year of 2020 as for war-weary singers in 1944.

Song at Wikipedia.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bow
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bow
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

This entry was posted in Holidays and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.