Jason Deal

It’s almost Christmas.

Most years, the smooth, mellow sounds of the excellent crooner,  the late, great Nat King Cole, massage my ears with the words of the Christmas song.

Nat is wonderful. I love to hear him – and no one else but him – sing “The Christmas Song”.

This year, though, the old Martin and Blane classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has taken up residence not only in my ears, but also in my mind.

I didn’t know, but I learned the tune was popularized by Judy Garland in the 1943 film “Meet Me in St. Louis”.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on

Our troubles will be out of sight

From now on

Our troubles will be miles away...

Now more than ever, we need for our hearts to be light. With all the pandemic, COVID 19 troubles and the current vitriol and acid of our public discourse, wouldn’t it be nice if our hearts were light and our troubles out of sight.

We need more than ever the lovely evangel delivered in Bethlehem so long ago: And on earth peace, good will toward men.

Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more...

This particular lyric has stuck with me more than usual this year. Last Christmas, my parents had COVID and I had been exposed, so we were all in quarantine for the two weeks around December 25 and into the new year. It was a miserable, depressing time. No one lives at my house but me and the isolation was like toting around a smothering weight. I drove around the neighborhood and honked the horn and waved just to be able to see people.

As bad as that was, though, we are still blessed. We recovered. There are many homes that have an empty chair this Christmas. And, of course, the holidays remind us of those we’ve loved who have gone on to heaven. My tree features decorations that remind me of them. In our memories, they are still here. My tree also includes decorations from those who “will gather near to us once more.”

Through the years

We all will be together

If the Lord will allow

Hang a shining star

Upon the highest bough...

It will be good to have loved ones gathered together again.

My Grandma Deal made her boys promise they would always meet Christmas Eve as long as there were at least two of them living. That streak, dating back to when my grandparents’ home was completed in 1949, was broken last year. I hope it never is again. Mama’s family made a similar promise to their mother, Grandma Jones, and they will get together, this season too.

As time goes on, the gifts under the tree mean less and less to me. I have preached it from the pulpit and I believe it. The most important things in life are not things. They are in the love you give and the people that you love in life.

I will watch “A Christmas Carol”. I am always pepped up by the story of ole Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption. It is something we need to be reminded of from time to time.

I will read Luke 2 to be reminded of the true meaning of this season.

Joy to the World! The Lord IS come!!

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

• Jason Deal is the news editor for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.