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The Meaning Behind The Song: Happy for the Holidays by Jars of Clay & SHEL

The Meaning Behind The Song: Happy for the Holidays by Jars of Clay & SHEL


As the holiday season approaches, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the true meaning of this special time of year. It is during these moments of introspection that we often stumble upon songs that encapsulate the essence of the holidays. One such song that has touched my heart is “Happy for the Holidays” by Jars of Clay and SHEL. Its enchanting melody and heartfelt lyrics resonate deeply, reminding us of the importance of love, togetherness, and finding joy in unexpected circumstances.

Verse 1 and Verse 2: Unforeseen Challenges

The song begins by painting a picture of a couple sailing away on a mid-December eve, seeking solace in the beauty of the Christmas lights out at sea. However, their peaceful journey takes an unexpected turn when a hurricane disrupts their plans, ultimately leaving them stranded on a deserted island. Despite the adverse circumstances, they find solace in each other’s company, embracing their unforeseen adventure.

Chorus: Shipwrecked and Happy for the Holidays

The chorus serves as an anthem of resilience and contentment. The lyrics emphasize the couple’s ability to find happiness even in the midst of their shipwrecked situation. Away from the chaos of the world, it is just the two of them, the sea, and the gentle waves. There are no societal expectations or pressures, offering them the freedom to truly be themselves. They misbehave without worry, as there is no one around to judge them. In this unconventional setting, they discover a sense of serenity and joy that goes beyond materialistic traditions.

Verse 3: Embracing the Present Moment

As the song progresses, the couple finds themselves appreciating the simple pleasures of their surroundings. They walk barefoot on the cool sand, observing the resilient growth of the palm trees. The absence of other humans for miles compels them to stay awhile, fully immersing themselves in the present moment. It is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, providing them with an opportunity to reconnect with nature and each other.

Verse 4: A Unique Request to Santa

In a whimsical twist, the couple directs their wishes to Santa Claus, who symbolizes the magic of the holiday season. Instead of longing for rescue, they ask Santa to twinkle the stars like Christmas lights and part the clouds so they can see the moon. This showcases their desire to extend their idyllic experience, cherishing the simplicity and tranquility they have found.

Verse 5 and Final Chorus: Gratitude for the Present

In the penultimate verse, the couple reflects on their initial assumptions. They thought they would miss the falling snow and festive traditions such as mistletoe and carolers. However, in their newfound paradise, they discover that they don’t miss any of those things at all. Their gratitude for the present moment shines through, as they joyfully embrace their unconventional holiday experience.


“Happy for the Holidays” by Jars of Clay and SHEL is a captivating song that invites us to redefine our expectations of the holiday season. It reminds us that true happiness can be found in the simplest of moments, and that the joy of the holidays is not solely dependent on material possessions or traditional celebrations. Through its heartfelt lyrics and beautiful melody, this song encourages us to embrace unexpected circumstances and appreciate the love and togetherness that the holiday season brings. So, this year, let us be open to the magic that can be found in the most unlikely of places, and may we all be shipwrecked and happy for the holidays.


– Written By: Liza Holbrook, Eva Holbrook, Hannah Holbrook, Sarah Holbrook, Charlie Lowell, Dan Haseltine, Stephen Mason & Matt Odmark
– Primary Artists: Jars of Clay & SHEL
– Album Title: A Family Christmas (2019)
– Release Date: November 22, 2019

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