“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, It may be your last. From now on, We all may be living in the past.”
These are the original words to the Christmas classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” No wonder it almost got thrown out! The song was written for the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis, in a tender scene where Esther (Judy Garland) sings to comfort her young sister Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), both terribly sad that the family is moving from their beloved St. Louis to the crowded New York.
I get it. A heart-rending scene. The scene just before the father’s epiphany that they don’t have to move to NY, doggone it—they can stay here in St. Louis! It all works out in the end. It’s a classic MGM movie—of course it works out in the end!
Esther and Tootie were right to be sad to leave everything behind that they love. But “It may be your last”?? Whoa! This is no song to encourage someone who's grieving. Judy Garland said, "I won't sing it. Margaret will think I'm a monster!" The song as originally written was too sad for the one scene in the movie, much less for Christmases immemorial.
Why? Because it had no hope. There was no vision for a better, brighter future. No hope for a happy ending. None. No one wants to live that way.
I read those original lyrics again this year, and thought (as I always do) of the many LGBTQ and other marginalized people in my life who have no hope, no vision for the future. Their families have let their family member’s orientation or identity become an insurmountable obstacle in their relationship. They just can’t get past it.
Holidays for these families no longer represent hope and joy and restoration, but instead highlight the pain and hurt of blocked and broken relationships.
How can we let that happen? Christmas should be a time of hope!
Christians especially, who claim Christmas as the birth of their Savior, should have immeasurable hope!
Theirs should be a song of eternal hope, of unconditional embrace and welcome to all, because we all have been welcomed!
We who claim to be spiritual millionaires by all that God has given us should be overabundantly generous to others, not stingy and selfish.
So, maybe this year we can set many things aside, lean into love and let answers come when they come. Unconditionally love because we have been unconditionally loved. Radically include because we have been radically included.
Maybe this year we can… Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.
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