my favorite carols, part four: have yourself a merry little christmas

Part One: I'll Be Home For Christmas
Part Two: Jingle Bells
Part Three: Sweet Little Jesus Boy

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Ernie and Bert

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is a sad song. The unspoken follow up to "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" is, "Because the year sucked pretty bad until now". The Christmas-specific lyrics make it slightly more optimistic, with, "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough" replacing the original's "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow". Christmas makes some people really defeatist. "We Need a Little Christmas", from Mame is the same sort of song: Thank God Christmas is here, so we all don't just go kill ourselves. Most modern versions of "Need a Little Christmas" will omit the part about having "Grown a little leaner/Grown a little colder/Grown a little sadder/Grown a little older", because it's bad enough that it's cold and there's awkward family gatherings and it's December 22nd you still don't know what to buy for your little sister. Holiday albums don't need to remind you.

Frank Sinatra does a fine version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", but the one dearest to my heart is the Bert-and-Ernie duet for Merry Christmas From Sesame Street. HYAMLC follows an extended sketch where Ernie and Bert re-enact "The Gift of the Magi". Bert trades his paper clip collection to get Ernie's Christmas gift, a soap dish for his rubber ducky. Meanwhile, Ernie trades the rubber ducky for a cigar box for Bert to store his paper clip collection. The late Mr. Hooper returns the paper clips and the ducky, and a delighted Bert and Ernie pledge to "make the Yuletide gay".

The story is poignant, though it raises questions about the economy of Sesame Street. Mr. Hooper's grocery store apparently functions on the barter system, but one wonders how this model is sustainable. At the very least, Hooper would need some kind of trade agreement, where he exports paper clips and bath toys in exchange for baked goods, simply to meet the insatiable demand for cookies on Sesame Street. It's not clear how Ernie, Bert, or Big Bird would earn money in the first place. Only Oscar the Grouch has anything that resembles a business plan, but how much can he really get for redeeming bottles and cans? Perhaps all Sesame Street residents share in the lucrative sponsorship money paid out by letters and numbers.

My sister Megan and I used to sing this song for strangers when we were little, complete with all of the Sesame Street asides (Ernie says, "Thank you, Bert" after the first line of the song). The novelty of my speech impediment made up for our general inability to sing. Hearing, "Fwom now on, our twoubles will be out of thight" is both cuter and sadder. I sang the role of Ernie, which works because Megan is both more responsible and more OCD than I am. In addition, I have a round face, and Megan's jogging gait has at times been described as "doing the pigeon". Of course, as I've gotten older, I know there's only one analogue for my personality on Sesame street, and that's Othcar the Gwouch.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on December 23, 2007 12:57 AM.

my favorite carols, part 3: sweet little jesus boy was the previous entry in this blog.

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