In 1974, Merle Haggard and his backup band, The Strangers, released Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present, which was a collection of original and more traditional fare. But it wasn’t his renditions of “Silver Bells,” “Silent Night,” or “White Christmas” that dominated the charts – it was his original single of “If We Make It Through December.”
The song remained at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for four weeks and crossed over the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 28. It was also a No. 1 hit in Canada, ranking atop Canadian RPM Country Tracks.
A Song Many People Can Relate
Written by Merle Haggard himself, “If We Make It Through December” tells the story of a working-class man who dealt with economic hardship. Unfortunately, he had been laid off from his job at the factory just in time for the Christmas season. He has gotten depressed over his difficult situation during what, for the most part, should be a “happy time of year.” He can’t help but feel miserable knowing that he can’t buy his little girl a Christmas gift.
While it was originally released during Christmas time, the song’s theme of job loss and loneliness resonated with many audiences year-round, which is why Haggard released the song once again on a non-Christmas album in 1974 – with “If We Make It Through December” as its title track. Today, it is regarded to be one of the best songs by Merle Haggard.
Many others have also gone to record their own versions of “If We Make It Through December” in the country, folk, and pop genres. This includes Alan Jackson, Marty Robbins, and Faron Young. Meanwhile, Joey + Rory recorded it for their album A Farmhouse Christmas, wherein Merle Haggard provided vocal harmony.
Tune in and enjoy Merle Haggard’s performance of “If We Make It Through December” by playing the video below.