“Have yourself a Merry little Christmas…“
Written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the 1944 musical “Meet me in St. Louis” most people know the original lyrics were much darker. Judy Garland refused to sing it at first because it was just – “too damned depressing.”
“…It may be your last. Next year we may all be living in the past.”
Yeah, I told you they were dark.
I went to the doctor on December 23rd with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head and yet another suspicious lump on my neck. My surgeon quickly confirmed my worst fears and told me that yes, for the fifth time in three years my cancer was back.
Martin initially refused to change the lyrics, from his perspective he was writing a song about anticipating a better future, not a celebration of Christmas present, but MGM was paying the checks so the movie going public heard this version …
“Let your heart be light, next year all our troubles will be out of sight.”
Listening to this song, eating my Cinnabon, and yes, I did get the extra frosting… I was angry. All these people wandering past me in the mall, not a care in the world. Perfect, happy, totally healthy people. Why me? Why the hell me?
In 1957 Frank Sinatra asked Martin to do more revisions to the following line…
“Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.”
“Hang a shining star upon the highest bow.”
We don’t want real life to intrude on our holidays. We want our hearts to be light and filled with shining stars, hung from points on high. And as I sat there listening to the song winding down it hit me that all evidence to the contrary, these weren’t perfect, happy, healthy people. Real life was in some way or another, probably closing in on most of them. We wander through life dealing with our own particular brands of pain.
I realized I didn’t know any more about their lives than they knew about mine. We are all starring in our own little movies and we rarely bother to peek into the theater next door. Hell, to them I was just a guy in a turtleneck knuckle deep in frosting.
“Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow.”
I won’t presume to know what “the fates” are up to, but for me, for now, it means five days of intensive radiation treatments. Seven and a half more hours under the mask. Yes, it feels like a race where someone keeps moving the finish line, but… we’re doing okay.
By the grace of God and an occasional Cinnabon, the Rhymer’s will muddle through somehow.