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'If We Make it Through December': The Story Behind Merle Haggard's Holiday Heartbreaker

"If We Make It Through December" has become one of the trademark songs of country music legend Merle Haggard. While not a typical Christmas song, it has served as an anthem for the workin' man during a tough time in American history. 

For some, Christmas is about Santa Claus, "White Christmas" and celebrating under the Christmas tree. But this country song is a reminder that that's not the case for everyone. 

Originally released in 1973 on the album Merle Haggard's Christmas Present, Haggard used the song as a way to comment on the staggering unemployment and inflation rates that the United States were enduring at the time. The narrator's unrealistic optimism at just trying to get through the month is reflective of some of the news headlines at the time. Though the song became a representation of economics, that really wasn't how the song came to be. 

Read More: 12 Rare Gems from Merle Haggard

Haggard's guitar player, Roy Nichols, had been through multiple divorces. When Haggard asked him how he felt about enduring a divorce during the end of the year, Nichols said, "If we just make it through December.....". Haggard used that line to tell the story of a man who had lost his job and was unable to provide his child with anything for the holiday. The song was a hit and ended up also serving as the title track for Haggard's next non-Christmas album in 1974.

"If We Make It Through December" Lyrics

If we make it through December

Everything's gonna be all right, I know

It's the coldest time of winter

And I shiver when I see the falling snow

If we make it through December

Got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime

Maybe even California

If we make it through December, we'll be fine

Got laid off down at the factory

And their timing's not the greatest in the world

Heaven knows I been working hard

Wanted Christmas to be right for daddy's girl

I don't mean to hate December

It's meant to be the happy time of year

And my little girl don't understand

Why daddy can't afford no Christmas here

If we make it through December

Everything's gonna be all right, I know

It's the coldest time of winter

And I shiver when I see the falling snow

If we make it through December

Got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime

Maybe even California

If we make it through December, we'll be fine

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'If We Make it Through December': The Story Behind Merle Haggard's Holiday Heartbreaker