One of the lovelier Christmas songs to be released this year, Kelcy Mae’s “Christmas With You (Merry Me)” is also a song with a point. The locally-based artist originally set out to write about how she, as part of a gay couple, had to be separated from her partner during family celebrations. With help from friends and fans who sent in photos for her video, the song turned into a celebration of love and commitment, tying in with marriage equality passing this year.
The video includes a range of happy couples, from two middle-aged men in a church wedding to a grinning pair of women on Bourbon Street. “When same-sex marriage became legal this year, it was like such a burden was lifted,” says Kelcy Wilburn, who performs as Kelcy Mae. “Being a Louisiana resident, I’d found the issue to be quite hopeless and demoralizing, so I was incredibly moved by the Supreme Court decision, even surprisingly so. All of the couples who submitted photos—they are the face of love, love that wins over bigotry and discrimination, and that is certainly something worth celebrating.”
She was indeed stuck spending the holidays alone when she wrote the song two Christmases ago. “I helped my partner pack up for an early morning drive to Illinois from New Orleans, and as soon as she was gone, I felt loneliness sink in. I went to a friend’s house that was busy baking or wrapping presents, and I started tinkering with their guitar. The song came pretty quickly—the honest ones usually do.” But she wound up keeping the lyric ambiguous enough that anyone who’s faced a lonely holiday should be able to relate. “There are a lot of lonely lovers out there, whether gay or straight or otherwise identified. Sexual orientation didn’t play much into the song, but I do think it played into our waiting so long to spend the holiday together, which is somewhat unfortunate.”
The lyric plays with the words “merry” and “marry,” turning its greeting into a marriage proposal. “Once the chorus was written, the play on words was unavoidable, and it only made sense to have the bridge culminate with a proposal, which I laughingly acknowledge to my partner, is more of a plea or command than a question,” she says. “For a long time I excluded the “me” and just sang an extended “mer-ry” because I wasn’t sure the song wanted to go that far—perhaps I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go that far. I’ve had two years to think about it, though, and ultimately decided the “merry me” line was indeed befitting.”
Wilburn is now streaming the video and selling a download of the song through her website. And yes, she does plan to be with her longtime partner this Christmas.