yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be
From now on our troubles will be out of sight. ...
Through the years, we all will be together, if the Fates
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
—From the song introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944
MGM musical "Meet Me in St. Louis," written by Hugh
Martin and Ralph Blane
I hate that silly shining star on the stupid highest bough. And our
troubles aren't going to be out sight for at least another year.
So in protest of the
modern lyrics, I sang my first solo at Bob Kelly's annual caroling
party in Peabody, using an earlier version:
Have yourself a
merry little Christmas, let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight. ...
Someday soon we all may be together, if the Fates allow,
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
That felt good. I can
do wonder and hope and joy as well as the next person, but I also
want a song for those who are away from family and friends this
year, including military personnel still overseas; those of us who
miss our departed loved ones especially at Christmas, and like to
think about seeing them in the next world; and those who are
planning to muddle through 2012 until the election, when we voters
can put some kind of star on the highest bough in the land.
misgivings, I have chosen my own particular star for the Republican
presidential nomination. Mitt Romney finally did an in-depth
interview with Chris Wallace on Fox last Sunday morning, and seemed
like the Mitt I fondly remember as our governor.
Over the same weekend
my brain kept repeating an odd phrase, obviously inspired by the
season: Newt Gingrinch. Name similarity a coincidence? Is this
erratic politician going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
over Obama, as the Grinch attempted to snatch Christmas from the
Whos down in Whoville? Time to put the Romney bumper sticker on the
I'm feeling a little
grinchy myself, maybe because Christmas is coming too fast for me to
adjust from recent political events into the spirit of the season. I
did a television news interview this month with Fox Undercover about
millions of dollars wasted by the United States Postal Service as it
contemplates cutting post offices and service hours.
Seems the USPS has been
carrying a 20-year lease for a building in Winthrop that has
remained vacant and become an eyesore, while this independent
government agency is paying $3.7 million for the life of the lease,
offset by a miniscule $98,000 sublet.
When asked by
investigative reporter Mike Beaudet, "Why would they rent a building
and never use it?" I responded, "Because they could. Because nobody
cared." It's a generic response to almost any question about
My most recent call
from a print reporter concerned the University of Massachusetts
paying its former president, Jack Wilson, $425,000 during his
yearlong sabbatical, before he returns to the university as a
professor at a salary of $316,784 a year. This generous contract was
negotiated without a vote of any board and wasn't shared with the
public until the Boston Globe investigated.
Meanwhile, students go
into debt to pay tuition and fees for public higher education. I
emailed the story to my son in case he gets a call for a
contribution from his alumni association.
Also, as I write my
Christmas checks to charity, I've been checking Charity Navigator to
see what the executives of these nonprofits are being paid and what
percentage of contributions goes to direct services. I like to
share, but hate being ripped off.
But, as Santa checks
his list of who's naughty and who's nice, I suppose we should note
ourselves that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is finally showing
a modicum of respect for the voters who years ago told it to restore
their traditional 5 percent income tax rate.
In 1989 then-Gov.
Dukakis and the Legislature passed an income-tax hike that, in order
to get the necessary votes, they promised would last only 18 months.
The next year they raised the income tax rate again.
Ten years later, in
2000, voters put the "temporary" higher income tax on the ballot,
and cut the rate back to 5 percent over three years. In 2002, the
Legislature "froze" the rate at 5.3 percent, promising that someday
it would defrost when certain complicated economic factors had
"Someday" has slightly
arrived, and the rate will drop to 5.25 percent for 2012. At this
level of reduction, the promise of "temporary" will be finally kept
in 2057, 68 years after it was made. Hallelujah!
Bringing me to my other
traditional pet peeve, the use of "peace on earth, good will to
men," which in my family Bible reads "and on earth peace among men
The holiday/holy day is
being met with lights in my windows and on the tree, with wonder and
hope and joy. I'm wishing all men and women of goodwill who read
this column not only peace, but a very merry little Christmas,
Hanukkah and Winter Solstice.