Countdown to Christmas: Day 7. "George Michael? Meet Christina Georgina Rossetti."

Wham!’s 1984 hit, “Last Christmas” is one of those songs that you can find yourself humming in December- even if you’re not trying to. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the only line you need to capture its, well, heart. 

“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. But the very next day you gave it away.”

As far as songs about holiday betrayal go, it’s surprisingly upbeat. But if you’ve weathered a devastating loss between last Advent and this one, the holiday season is anything but.

What was true about last Christmas that won’t be true about this one? For many of us, someone we love will be absent from the table. Or maybe, because a rift in a relationship, we won’t be exchanging gifts with someone we once did. Or there was an unplanned move and your new place doesn’t have any shrubs on which to hang those Christmas lights. Somewhere between December 25 of last year and this moment, something dear to you was taken, broken or lost.

Now what? With all due respect to Wham!, I’m not sure tossing a fragile heart into the lap of this year’s someone special is the answer. More than a century before “Last Christmas” hit the charts, another English writer penned these lines about giving one’s heart away. Here’s what Christina Georgina Rossetti wrote:

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him?
Give Him my heart. 

It’s beautiful in its simplicity. Christina’s asking: Come Christmas, who can I trust with my heart, scarred and delicate as it is? The Christ-child. It’s the only significant gift I can offer and He’s the only One who can be trusted to heal, keep and defend it.


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Craig Custance