This is one of those songs that will get stuck in your head ... just fair warning. I have been humming bits and pieces of it all week. And when it gets morphed with "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" you can get something really interesting!
So ... just to make it fair that you have it in running around in your head, too, here it is:
Lyrics | Burl Ives - A Holly Jolly Christmas lyrics
I'm not too sure about those graphics, but I decided to choose the authentic Burl Ives version over Alan Jackson twanging through "holly, jolly". You're welcome. :)
As I sat with this particular song in front of me, I was initially stumped as to how this familiar, and a tad bit redundant, ditty could point us back to the manger. As far as I could guess, there was no holly or jollity at the birth of Jesus. Instead there was a lot of straw and mud. This event was also lacking many guests to celebrate. Instead there was an abundance of animals snuffing and grunting and lowing.
Of course there was joy at Jesus' birth, but I don't envision any "cup o' cheer" being passed around. In reality, the birth of God's Son went widely unnoticed. A group of shepherds and a choir of angels about rounded out the party.
Then there's the line about mistletoe ... "Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me." That I think, is a bit creepy. I believe I'd have to tell Burl to get his own girl.
So ... how can we see this song in a fresh way? What is our manger-scene snapshot of this old favorite?
I think it's found in the line, "Say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet." The core sense of those ten words is a friendly spirit. A gift of friendship ... even to those people we encounter for a brief moment.
That would be the lady who checks you out at the grocery story, the guy behind the counter at the gas station, the lady who checks your in your books at the library, and the guy waiting in line with you at Starbucks. That would also include the college student clearing your table at Carino's and the old fellow ringing the Salvation Army bell outside of Target.
So often this season gets full and we get busy. The stress rolls in and suddenly Christmas cheer goes out the window. Instead of a smile and a little grace when the bagger squishes our loaf of bread, we grumble and mumble and sigh. When we have to wait our turn to check out, we groan and moan and point out that the lady ahead of us has exceeded the "15 Items or Less" limit.
I think this little line hidden between the Holly's and Jolly's can remind us to simply be nice. A few generous smiles and pleasant "Hello's" can go a long way toward spreading some Christmas cheer. And that friendly greeting is a beautiful way to send along the true meaning of Christmas, too.
So I guess Burl Ives did have a little nugget of truth to share with us after all! With this song running on repeat in your head, you'll be sharing the joy of Christmas with everyone you come in contact with ... from now until spring!