I find the song Auld Lang Syne to be haunting and a bit sad. While hopeful it makes me think of loss. It may just be my emotional instability rearing its head. The tune causes the same reaction I have with the abused pet commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing.
To make sure I get a good dose of sorrow, there is an American Express commercial using the old Scottish ballad, sung by India Carney. Her voice and the arrangement were created to make people stop and reflect…and maybe shed a tear. It’s a commercial Don, wipe your face.
I’ve been fortunate. I have lost no close friends or family members to Covid-19 in this terrible year that threatens to run on into the new year. This is not to say I have been unscathed. I have lost folk I didn’t want to lose, both family and friends. I have lost former acquaintances, coaching and teaching peers, and have had family and friends who were sick but should recover. ”We’ll take a cup of kindness yet” together, I hope in the near future. If you can read this, we have reasons to be optimistic and hopeful for the coming year and yet the commercial is on again and I’m misty eyed.
I battle with myself; the fearful me who wants to live as long as possible even if it is in isolation and the defiant me who thinks “Damn the torpedoes”. There is a small part of me who still thinks he is bulletproof. I check too many “bad” boxes on my health sheet, so I am most assuredly not bulletproof. I should remain the fearful…the smart one. Still my daughter and grandbabies call to me…as does the BBQ and beer at Green River BBQ.
Christmas is a few days behind me and the New Years a few days ahead. I am conflicted and a bit melancholy. I long for the days of childlike wonder when my father and mother were responsible for my happiness. I do not like being the responsible adult…the adult in charge, the adult responsible for my happiness. I turned the Christmas Eve responsibilities over to my daughter but the mental vision of social distancing and face masks on seven- and four-year olds is not the last vision I wish to have.
I am old enough for my wants not to hurt me and will spend the New Year’s Eve with my bride attempting to stay awake for the New Year’s toast and kiss…maybe I should set a twelve am alarm. A fire in the fireplace and a Jack Daniels instead of champagne, I will toast the new year, kiss my bride, eat a sausage and cheese ball, and then say a prayer for the coming year…before sleeping my way into it.
Auld Lang Syne began its life as a poem attributed mostly to Robert Burns and written in what has become such an obscure Scottish language that most English readers can’t comprehend it. It is quite possible Burns was motivated by an earlier ballad written by James Watson. The tune is an old Scottish song of unknown origin. The standard version, what we sing after the “ball drops”, is much easier to understand.
The first verse goes
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
While it does not specifically translate, Auld Lang Syne translates loosely to “for the sake of old times” and old times is where my mind goes. My visions are of old friends or family gatherings, making a toast to those we have lost and those who remain. A toast to the better times we hope will come.
I visualize party goers on black and white film, the ladies dressed in shimmering gowns of unknown colors and the men in old high collar shirts, tuxedos, waistcoats, and narrow bow ties. They hold champagne flutes and kiss as balloons fall before singing Auld Lang Syne.
I seem to be captured in an old Thirties or Forties movie from “the good old days” of the Great Depression or World War Two. I don’t believe New Year’s Eve 2020 will be considered one of the good old days any more than the days of the Great Depression were, and I fear 2021 will simply be a redux of 2020. Like those from “the good old days” there is hope.
Maybe we will be able to safely gather next year but whether we do or not, let us raise “a cup of kindness yet”, not just at twelve am on January 1st, but for all of 2021 and the time we have remaining. We are in control of our kindness and it cost nothing. Kindness is free but is worth its weight in gold.
I offer you the following toast credited to Alfred Lord Tennyson. In a pandemic year with a contested elections and conspiracies theories on galore, it seems appropriate.
“Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow.
The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
I repeat, “Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
Happy New Year my friends, Happy New Year.
One of your New Year’s resolutions should be to read more starting with “Long Ride to Paradise”, my latest release. Download to Kindle or purchase in paperback. As usual it is free with Kindle Unlimited.