It’s a gray day here in the Boston area.
Rain is forecast for Christmas Day, which will probably melt the snow that fell last week.
Lot of folks are curtailing their holiday plans and modifying — or outright cancelling — long-standing family traditions in response to the fact that hospitals around the USA are again overloaded with Covid-19 cases.
And the infection numbers just keep rising…partly due to all the traveling that folks did a few weeks ago during Thanksgiving.
And the refrigerated trailer trucks parked outside of hospitals continue to fill up with the bodies of folks who have died — with no friends or family members at their side — as a result of this public health tragedy.
This is sad on so many levels.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
Even in the best of years, winter holidays can be a very difficult time for some of us.
I read a couple of blog posts by my fellow bloggers this morning while I was avoiding other tasks on my “to do” list.
Clare from North Suffolk in England shared a bit about the challenges her family is facing this year, especially those who already experience high levels of anxiety about life here on planet earth.
She writes: “The damage all this isolation and lock-down is doing to so many people, physically, mentally and financially is unimaginably great…”
Another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
Clare’s blog post reminded me of this song, written by John Meyer (in the audio player above).
I do not remember when I first heard “After The Holidays.”
Judy Garland performed it on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1968 — and many copies of that performance can be found on YouTube.
I am guessing that it was included on some sort of Judy Garland compilation CD — released long after her death in 1969 — which I ended up listening to…
Here is Judy in 1963, photographed by Richard Avedon.
The man who wrote the song, John Meyer, had an intense, three-month-long relationship with Judy when he was starting his career as a writer.
He chronicles it in a very vivid book he wrote called Heartbreaker.
I think his relationship with Judy ended when she got serious about another man, Mickey Deans.
Here she is with Mickey in London during their wedding on March 15, 1969.
Judy was living with Mickey in London when she died on June 22, 1969.
It is my understanding, after reading many books about Judy Garland, that she often did not like to be left alone.
Mel Torme — a wonderful singer who also co-wrote “The Christmas Song” — wrote a book about his time working on Judy’s TV series.
In it he talks about becoming a member of “The Dawn Patrol” — a select group of staff members who would take turns spending the night with Judy and reassuring her that her show was going well.
Loneliness is certainly something that most of us have experienced at one time or another.
And loneliness during the holidays can be particularly excruciating.
By a sweet coincidence, while I was avoiding things on my “to do” list, I also found a video on YouTube about two dogs, Taco (a chihuahua) and Merrill (a pit bull mix), who were dropped off at a shelter together and did NOT want to be seperated.
In hopes of finding someone who would be willing to adopt both of them, the people who worked at their shelter started sharing posts via social media about their special bond.
They ended up being adopted by a family who started a Facebook page about them, because so many other people wanted to know what had happened to them.
Hurrah for this one, small, canine happy ending!
I also would like for this blog post to have a happy musical ending.
So I am including links to several songs which pianist Doug Hammer and I have released this month to various musical platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.
You can click here to listen to our version of “We Need A Little Christmas.”
You can click here to listen to our version of “Winter Wonderland.”
You can click here to listen to our version of “The Christmas Song.”
You can click here to listen to our version of “Silver Bells” (which was featured in a recent blog post).
And you can click here to listen to our version of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”
Thank you to Doug Hammer for his gifts as a pianist as well as a recording engineer.
Thank you to John Meyer for his beautiful song and to Judy Garland for being the first person to breath life into it.
And thank you to YOU for reading and listening to another one of my blog posts!
May your holiday season be filled with comforting music and light.