Have Youself a Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Before I start and I have you wondering why I’m writing about a Christmas piece…let’s just use the excuse that where I am it is winter, or pretty close, and it is not unheard of for us to have Christmas in June/July to replicate the cold, although, without the snow. So…forgive me if I’m writing a “winter” post. But then “summer” is all relative 😉

I love this song and have for many, many years. It must be my favourite Christmas piece. Musically. But there’s also a visual association. And no, not from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) but, and please don’t judge me, from The Family Stone (2005). I’ve always known the song purely from an aural perspective. Yes, I’m ignorant, but I confess…I never realised, until the release of The Family Stone, that it was from a movie timeless classic.

Susannah (Elizabeth Reaser) is watching Meet Me in St. Louis during a very sentimental Christmas Eve scene in The Family Stone. She has Amy (Rachel McAdams) sleeping peacefully (she’s normally causing trouble when awake) on the couch next to her when patriarch Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) comes in to wish good night and asks Susannah if she’s coming to bed. Gosh no, this is the best part explains Susannah putting up the volume on the television. The next part is absolutely beautiful with a sense of serenity, happiness and that lovely peaceful Christmas feeling. While Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas is playing we see various members of the Stone family find their peace or bittersweet moments of happiness on Christmas Eve. Finally, we return to the Stone lounge, specifically the Stone television showing Judy Garland singing to her sister. The lyrics become so meaningful considering the Stone family circumstances. It has a parallel role here…the one in the main movie and the other in the movie in the movie (if that makes sense).

This piece was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, and was introduced to the public by Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis. For me, that’s the version I always have in mind. She’s the voice of this song. Nobody else. I’ve listened to other renditions but they just don’t hold that same special feeling for me. What’s interesting is that original text was changed because, amongst others, Judy Garland said it was too depressing and it was changed to a more uplifting piece. However, knowing this, The Family Stone situation takes on a new, deeper meaning:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York
No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more
But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

For me, when I’m taking in that special atmosphere each Christmas Eve, surrounded by family and that sense of peace, inevitably I have Judy Garland creep into my mind singing this special song.