Further thoughts on muddling through

I was surprised to see that my first post in this space was seven years ago; even more surprised to see that it has been nearly two years since I seemed to have anything to say. If it’s true that you don’t score on 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take, I guess that means there are still a few goals in this stick.

That first post was about the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and the evolution (verging on bowdlerization) of its lyrics. And here we are, near the end our Our Covid Year, and at risk of wearing out a well-used phrase over the past nine months or so, I hope this finds you safe and well. In our little corner, we seem to be safe, and can at least claim something that passes for well.

If there are two better words to describe the year than “muddling through,” I’ve yet to think of them.

It has been a year of constant adaptation, of plans made tentatively and abandoned with regret, of milestones and holidays allowed to pass without proper recognition. It has been a year of emotional fragility—and of the need to keep the mind occupied as much as possible, because any pauses for reflection led inexorably to sadness . . . and anger and loss. And another realization that there’s still some muddling through to be done.

It reached a point a few Sundays ago where I noticed that Meet Me in St. Louis was on TV, and I just didn’t have it in me to watch. Because of that damned song.

And then it snuck up on me. I was watching Stephen Colbert’s show, and Jon Batiste performed it. With the Judy Garland lyrics and not the Sinatra ones. As he has demonstrated many times this year, Jon Batiste gets it. This is not the time for “from now on”; we‘re in a place of clinging to hopes for next year.

Yeah you right.

This ain‘t the time for from now on. All we can do is pin our hopes on next year. Forget about through the years we all will be together; we’re still waiting for someday soon to arrive, and besides, we’re never guaranteed more than we all may be together.

So, assuming you celebrate the holiday, have yourself a merry little Christmas now. Hope to see some of you again someday soon.


If you’ll indulge me in a discordant postscript, there’s a holiday song that really has really grated on my nerves this year. It’s “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays.”

Because of this part:

I met a man who lives in Tennessee
He was heading for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie
From Pennsylvania, folks are travellin’ to Dixie’s sunny shore
From Atlantic to Pacific, gee the traffic is terrific

The sad thing — the sick thing — is that you know people are actually stubbornly travelling great distances to be with people they don’t see more than a couple times a year. I think it’s folly, but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, whenever I’ve heard this song this year, I’ve been singing over it: “From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the COVID is terrific.”

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