The Soupster longs for a merry little Christmas
By Rachel Ramsey
“BAGH!” Liz exclaimed, tossing her hands up. Frazzled, she didn’t notice her friend at the other end of the long, fluorescent-lit aisle of Our Town’s hardware store.
“Liz?” the Soupster turned his head, recognizing her voice. “Friend, is that you!?” he asked in surprise. It was! Though they hadn’t crossed paths in many, many months, they recognized one another’s mask-muffled voices.
“Soupster! Gosh,” she laughed, “How in tarnation are you?” The two friends smiled large beneath their masks, approached nearer, stopping short at 8’ apart (yet feeling as near as ever). They didn’t share a bubble, so they were both giddy at the chance to briefly share an aisle.
Liz’s big eyes brightened, tired though they were. Soupster saw the exhaustion, the strain of months and months of life disrupted.
“Not too shabby, honestly.” he replied, as overhead, the holiday shopping music bellowed out a surreal Kenny-G-meets-Black-Sabbath hybrid version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Feeling Liz’s tender energy and wishing he could give her a hug, the Soupster gently motioned his head upward, “Say, what do you think of this version?” he asked.
“You know, Soupster, this song has always been a holiday favorite of mine, though this one’s a bit much.” she admitted.
“Mine too.” The Soupster agreed. Some-times we ‘hang a shining star upon the highest bough’. Other times we ‘muddle through somehow’ and, occasionally, we do both.” He sighed.
“So true. How many holiday tunes do you know that both acknowledge the melancholy – missing loved ones during the holidays – yet remain hopeful and optimistic?”
The Soupster began to mentally shuffle through the hundreds of holiday tunes residing in his memory.
Liz continued, “Judy Garland’s version is the best – my heart cracks when I hear it. She was the queen muddler. Though Sinatra found the lyric depressing and had it re-written, which is why we can ‘have it both ways’ but we rarely do. Seems artists pick one and stick with it.”
“Let’s see…,” mused the Soupster, “Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, even Bob Dylan sings it both ways – muddling through the first verse and reaching the highest bough on the second.”
“Ella Fitzgerald, too!” Liz added. “Though when she belts it, even the muddling through is somehow upbeat, swinging and hopeful.” The sides of Liz’s eyes were lifted in smile.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was birthed during WWII, dark times to be sure.” The Soupster said.
“It’s really something that after 80 years this song still has the power to move us so,” said Liz.
Glad to feel Liz’s spirits lifting, the Soupster asked, “Worst version?”
“This one!” Liz shot back without hesitation and rolling her eyes with a chuckle.
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