This year, this seasonal song is doing a great job of describing how different this Christmas is. I’m talking about the original song from the 1944 Judy Garland movie “Meet Me In St Louis.” Not the 1950 rewrite by Frank Sinatra.
Our Holiday gatherings are smaller and mostly online. We are not gathering with large groups of our extended family and friends as normal, but with just the people we live with.
In 1944, millions were away from their families, either fighting overseas or supporting the war effort across the US. Train travel was limited as the trains were mostly dedicated to the war effort, so people could not travel home for Christmas. Already tens of thousands of families had lost loved ones to the war effort. At this point it was clear we were winning but everyone knew there were months of fighting and many casualties still ahead.
When you read these lyrics with this in mind they take on a deeper meaning. The line “Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow” reflect the hard reality that you may never see some of your loved ones again.
During this bizarre Covid Christmas there are already many families with empty chairs at the table for people who have died. hundred of thousands of families are experiencing their first Christmas with a loved one dead.
People are dying at an alarming rate. In addition to the COVID deaths, people are still dying from heart attacks, cancer, car accidents, and other causes this year. I’ve lost two uncles and a dear cousin this year – not to COVID – but to the other causes. There has been no funeral to allow us to say goodbye
More Americas have died in 2020 than in any previous year. We are well over 400,000 deaths above what the insurance tables say should be expected. There are a lot of families hurting this year.
So this song expresses the deep hurt many of us feel for lost loved ones, lost interactions with others. but also the hope and assurance that “Someday soon we all will be together”
And so I end my annual Christmas message – like I do every year – with what Tiny Tim said,
“A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, everyone!”
These are the lyrics sung by Judy Garland in 1944 and the clip from the movie. https://youtu.be/CreWsnhQwzY<