My sister and I have a special connection to the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” We have always loved “Meet Me in St. Louis” (the film in which the song originally appeared, sung by Judy Garland), and I can distinctly remember watching it with her on many occasions, including once, well into our early twenties, when the viewing suddenly felt more about nostalgia than it did the actual movie. I remember looking at her on the sofa next to me and thinking, “We’re adults now.” It was a bittersweet milestone, a marking of “the befores” from “the afters,” the kind of turning point you might experience discovering cigarettes in a parent’s car, or some other vestige of a private life you knew nothing about. Not sinister, but just — a re-framing. I remember exactly where she was reclining on the leather sofa in my apartment in Glover Park, and I recall thinking that I wanted to cling to her forever.
One snowy December night in upstate New York a year or two later, we clung to each other while processing a family tragedy. We both felt strangled for words. Afterward, we tried to stream “Meet Me in St. Louis” in a bald attempt at comforting ourselves. We ended up not being able to watch it for a technical reason — a glitch I now see as profoundly metaphoric, as there was no solace to be found that night — but I hear the song, and I think about the way we instinctively sought out that movie and those lyrics in the face of grief.
And a few years after that, at her winter wedding, she had the song — Judy Garland edition and all — played in my honor on the dance floor.
“For Jennifer,” she said, standing behind her chair, looking resplendent in white, shining like a pearl on that happiest of days, and I was deeply moved by her small homage to our secret sister connection on an occasion that was not about me in the least.
The song, then, is as much about sisterhood, about a sibling love that abides, as it is about anything else. Which fits, if you think about it, since — in the movie –Judy Garland’s character sings the song to console her younger sister.
This year, a lyric to which I’ve never given much thought has jumped out at me with persistence:
“Let your heart be light.”
I love its grammar: the gentlest of imperatives. The kind of command only a sister can issue without soliciting frustration. Permit the joy! Shed what weighs you down! I hear the words and I imagine releasing my heart into the air, as though a previously-tethered balloon. The words could not befit my sister more. She enters a room and fills it with color.
This year, I am dialed in on this directive:
Let your heart be light.
+I just ordered this matte vanilla eye shadow stick. I cannot do powder this winter — my skin/eyes are SO dry and I only want cream-based product. 32,000 positive reviews can’t lie — and love the price point!
+Serena and Lily has a big clearance sale running and you must know about these bar stools — originally $820, now $250. That’s an incredible price for a stool from S&L. This pinecone wreath is included in the sale for under $200 (orig almost $500) and is kind of brilliant in that you never need to buy a front door wreath again. These chic trimmed shams have been popular with Magpies all year — originally $130/pop, now $29?! And these crib sheets truly are the best quality and somehow only $20 right now. Finally, drumroll please: this chic daybed, originally $3K, is now under $1K. Run!
+LOVE these boots. They remind me of a much more expensive style by Khaite.
+A $33 long puffer coat. I saw this and thought it might be perfect if you’re in a place that’s only really cold a few days of the year.
+Cute quilted lounge set for under $35.
+Pair with my dream puffer coat for a true hi-lo moment.
+OK, this tartan maxi dress is pretty fantastic.
+This sherpa bag was restocked!
+With a dog and two young children, we have needed our carpet cleaner more than I care to admit.
+This chic leather crossbody sold out earlier this season. Crossbodies are my favorite style of bag these days.
+A great card game for even really young kids. We discovered this while visiting family over the summer and I’m putting it in my daughter’s stocking.