Six Days To Go

The end is nearly here. Another year and another December are soon to have passed. After experiencing the unusually cold arctic blast of the past week and a lot of chilly moments over the past few months, there is a song that has really been striking a chord with me.

That’s where we’ll pick up our discussion on this edition of “Becoming Today”.

Some nearly 50 years ago a man who was no stranger to troubled times himself, crooned about how this time of year can become a test of endurance.

Shivering and dreaming of a warmer place, the coldest chill came to his heart, when he needed to explain some of the test of life to his children.

The song became an instant classic and the singer and sole songwriter offered it to the world on an album he entitled, “Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present”.

A child of the Dust Bowl, Haggard’s family were those similar to the characters in “The Grapes of Wrath” who traveled west as the pioneers of a century before had. In search of sunshine, rainbows and opportunity. 

All themes he would later sing about and live.

The song I’ve been humming constantly as it is representative of where I have found myself is “If We Make It Through December”. 

As Merle crooned, “If we make it through December, we’ll be fine”.

As of this moment that gives us six days  to go.

If you’re not familiar with the song I’ll share a link to a  video. However to me the words themselves 

As simple as they are are sheer poetry that speaks volumes for multitudes of people.

Opening with a chorus that repeats and in just three verses, 173 words in total, Haggard gave voice to people of all kinds from a multitude of places. 

As the song begins:

“If we make it through December

Everything’s going to be alright, I know

It’s the coldest time of winter

And I shiver when I see the falling snow

If we make it through December

Got plans to be in a warmer town come summer time

Maybe even California

If we make it through December, we’ll be fine”

While Merle was born in California after his family’s Joad like journey from Oklahoma in 1934, despite the change in climate he would still experience  many a cold December.

In the words of the character in the song, 

“Got laid off down at the factory

And their timing’s not the greatest in the world

Heaven knows I’ve been working hard

I wanted Christmas to be right for daddy’s girl

I don’t mean to hate December

It’s meant to be the happy time of year

But my little girl don’t understand

Why daddy can’t afford no Christmas here”.

In his own life an earlier song, “Mama TrIed” tells the tale of:

 “I turned 21 in prison, doing life without parole

No one could steer me right but mama tried, mama tried

Mama tried to raise me better but her pleading, I denied

Leaves only me to blame ’cause mama tried”.

Convicted of multiple crimes, beginning at the age of 13, by the time he turned 20 it was in the dark cells of  San Quentin State Prison that he managed to turn his life around and found music to uplift not only him but millions of souls.

Released from prison in 1960, eventually in 1972 then California Governor Ronald Reagan pardoned Haggard for all his crimes . 

A blessing Merle never forgot and made the most of. Not only in his life, but giving to many others.

That’s why this song many may call “sad” or a “tear-jerker” to me is an inspiring  reminder. 

An encouragement that this too shall pass. 

Hope reigns  and even when we don’t quite see the way, I know for myself included, “If we make it through December, Everything’s going to be alright”. 

And  I’ll add WHEN “we make it through December, we’ll be fine”.

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