Have Yourself a Muddling Little Christmas

Brooke a. Anderson
4 min readDec 15, 2020


Apparently Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas has multiple sets of lyrics, and the story behind them is totally worth a read with Hollywood directors, movie stars, stubborn writers (which I totally identify with), and more. Check it out here.

I sing the version of this perennial favorite that includes the rather melancholy line “we’ll have to muddle through somehow.”

I have always loved this version. This weekend, however, as I was preparing to put up my tree and get into the holiday, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, that’s a sentiment I can embrace right now.”

There’s something about the word muddle that nestles into my 2020 soul.

Is there a more apropos sentiment for our current days? While I’m sure there are lots of good words to describe this year, muddle seems so on fleek for my feelings about this holiday season. And Hugh Martin used this delicious word 77 years ago.

On one hand, I can’t believe that it’s already time to put up the tree again. It seems that I just took it down when the first cases of what we then called Corona were popping up, and here we are circling back around to Christmas in what seems like the first time in 36 months and only 6 weeks ago.

In all that time, I feel like I have perfected the concept of muddling — that impossibly lethargic and melancholy experience of swinging like an overweight sloth from day to day to week and month while everything looks unnervingly the same.

Summer came and went with no vacation. We haven’t eaten in a restaurant since the tree was up last time. For the first time in my life June and November were more similar than different. I don’t remember the Aprilness of April. I feel like I can’t get a hold of a day, much less a month.

And yet, there has been sweetness.

There have been quiet days and space to get projects finished. There have been days to do nothing and relish the forced nothingness. It’s been a reminder that I have been in the habit of defining days by events rather than by their inherent quality of dayness.

Here we are looping around again to a holiday season that children get excited about and adults cling to in order to ground our seasonal calendar and measure the time that is whizzing by with a growing rapidity.

While the adult me often thinks of surviving the holidays with a modicum of trying to enjoy them thrown in, I rarely think of muddling through them.

Yet, that is exactly how this year feels.

A very muddle, muddling, muddle-lucious existence.

In the midst of my muddling ruminations, I stopped to listen to the rest of the lyrics in Merry Little Christmas about how “someday soon we all will be together”and “if the fates allow,”and I realized that we are not the first people to be muddling our way through the isolation of a less-than-perfect holiday season thanks to things outside of our control.

I cannot ignore, however, that hope abounds in these lyrics.

Not hope in the current moment of muddling, but hope in the truth that life moves on, time whizzes by, things change, and someday is different than today.

Wars end. People go home. Diseases abate. We isolate. And then we gather. Life never stays the same. We know it. Songwriters know it.

We rejoice. We celebrate. We survive. We muddle. We do all of these.

A quick look at history and the people who came before, reminds us that these variations are not only expected but worth celebrating for the way they point to change.

I’ll admit I’m not the best muddler. But then maybe nobody is. Maybe it’s ok if this holiday is quiet and more full of longing than celebration.

It doesn’t have to be the same as it’s always been.

And I almost wonder if maybe this current season of muddling is a subtle reminder of a slower season that we’ve forgotten in recent years.

There is still joy to be found in the muddling, in the longing, in the remembering that it wasn’t always this way, and in the hope that it won’t always be this way either.

Hoping your muddling this season is tinged with enough merry and bright and plenty of hot chocolate and candy canes to make it sweet until “someday soon we all”can be together.



Brooke a. Anderson

writer, designer, marketer, biologist…mostly in that order. living and loving life in Boulder, CO. @bawriting