As I was listening to my Christmas playlist in the car for maybe the sixth or seventh time this season, it struck me that I have the “wrong” version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I have the movie version, which is slightly different than the one overheard in shopping centers this time of year.
In the West, the penitential aspect of Advent is greatly reduced compared to Lent. I’m never sure how to balance the penitential preparation with the joyous expectation. I just muddle through until Christmas. Looking at the larger picture—the violence, abuse, and degradation of people for money and power throughout the world—finding a way to muddle through isn’t always easy. But when the only other option is despair, muddling through is an act of hope, an act that says this situation is temporary, and tomorrow will be clearer and brighter and worth waiting for. It’s possibly the most Christmasy message in that Christmas song.