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Single Serving 
A Retro Reindeer Review by psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T. 
Song: "If We Make It Through December" 
Artist: Merle Haggard 

***Watch and listen for Dr. B.L.T.'s single-song 'soundtrack' to the following retrospective review, 
December (An Ode to A Haggard Holiday Classic), scheduled for release on December 9, 2004, and available for a free MP3 download, beginning on that same date via the following link:

If we make it through December
Everythings gonna be all right I know
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shivver when I see the fallin snow...
Christmas is supposed to be a merry time, but trials, tribulations, diseases, heartbreaks and the often tumultuous vicissitudes of life have no sense of the season.  Life in December is not always a Christmas card.  Sometimes it is more like Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas," or Merle Haggard's "If We Make it Through December." 

As a psychologist, I would not hesitate to offer Haggard' s song as a musical prescription for anyone experiencing hardship of any variety during the Christmas season.  It is heartfelt, sincere, and every bit as comforting as it is haunting.  His voice on this song goes down as smoothly as a premium eggnog.  But it doesn't land in your stomach, it lands in your heart.  The song warms the spirit like a gentle fire in a fireplace quietly smoldering somewhere in the Christmas caverns of my childhood memories. 

"Walked by your window on a winter afternoon
I heard you playin
An old Merle Haggard tune
About December
And how he made it through
And when I heard it
I thought of me and you in this December..."

Dr. B.L.T. (c) 2004 

Here goes my broken record again: I've always said the mark of a great classic is its ability to inspire. Haggard's song, "The Fightin' Side of Me," inspired me to write Merle Hasn't Lost His Fightin' Side," and now it has inspired "December (Ode to a Haggard Holiday Classic)".  But I'm not the only one who has been inspired by this song.  Countless others have experienced the same sort of inspiration from listening to this golden gem of yore.  Countless others have cried a tear, held a loved one, flashed back to a lost December, found hope, and found a sense of comfort that hitherto seemed as far away as the North Pole to an Australian aborigine.  

If Merle can make it through December
If Merle can make it through those Christmas blues
If Merle can make it through December
Then I think that you and I
You and I can make it too...
Dr. B.L.T. (c)2004 

I've heard some great Christmas sermons in my time, but seasonal Sunday morning sermons are not the only place to find hope through the tumult of a difficult holiday season .  Sometimes hope is found in the stories of the common man.  And stories of the common man and the common woman who moves him, are never so poignant than when they are told by Merle Haggard, the poet of the people and the musician of the masses.  Merle Haggard is my 'rock 'n' role' model. 

Haggard is a survivor of the storms of life.  Ironically enough, his most freeing songs came from within the confines of prison bars, and/or the bars of life's often heartbreaking vicissitudes.  I'm about to sound like a broken record, but Merle Haggard was released from San Quentin prison on November 3, 1960, the same day I was released from my mother's womb. Ever since that day, I've been looking for songs and artists to inspire me, to give me a reason to hold on, even when my grip slips, even through seasons of stormy weather.  I've found that song of inspiration in "If We Make It Through December."  I've found that artist in Merle Haggard.  Thank you, Merle.  

Now, for all of you who are not yet Merle Haggard fans, I'd encourage you to check out "If We Make It Through December." You can find it on The Ultimate Collection and other Merle Haggard albums. You'll become an instant fan.  If you are struggling this season, this will help you through your dire December.  It will help you make it through your winter storm.  It will make this a season of survival.  Now, to all of you Merle Haggard fans: 

Have a Merry Merle Christmas and a Happy Haggard Holiday! 


 Copyright © 1996 - 2004 The Phantom Tollbooth