Even as a child, I cried when I heard the song, “Auld Lang Syne.” As an adult, I chalk it up to knowing that there is within me, life from literally that sense of “Old Long Since,” a time long gone by, from Scotland, who always knew and comprehended the meaning of that concept, when a child from America who had never traveled or experienced anything remotely exotic would not likely have understood its meaning or the feelings that arose from it.
On Christmas Eve, at Golden Corral, my husband and I were out for our holiday dinner and the Dan Fogelberg song, “Another Auld Lang Syne” came on, and I told him with fair warning, “I will cry during this song. I always have and I always will.” The sentiments of a love lost, then reacquainted in a grocery store during a chance meeting on New Year’s Eve, laying it all on the table for the sake of what might have been, has always seemed to me one of the greatest losses, but also somehow a triumph (because words were finally given to the feelings that never got to be fulfilled in that relationship). And it always makes me cry. Maybe I’m more of a romantic than I want to own up to being; I don’t know.
But always – I do mean, always – there is a sadness about those three words that penetrates my bones and pierces the depths of my soul in a way that I cannot ever explain. Some part of me has known more sadness and loss than I have in my mere fifty-one years within my soul – and those three words wring emotions and experiences that I can’t even give words to from deep within me, some secret place that my body’s current resident isn’t even privy to visit or see.
Auld Lang Syne, literally, then, means Old Long Since. It’s absolutely talking about what we’ve known in the past. And it is Scottish. Leave it to the Scots to raise emotions and fight with feelings from the past in inexorable ways in these lyrics. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?/Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang sine?” In other words, “Should old friends/loves be forgotten, and never thought of again? Should old friends/loves be forgotten and all of those old times, too?”
“For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne!/ We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne!” So, what’s being proclaimed here? For old times past, for old times past!” “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet –” There’s still something good to be said, to be thought, to be felt about those old times that have gone by – and we’ll take that cup of kindness now, thank you, because we might not have had it in the past – all for the sake of auld lang syne (old long since).
What makes this the perfect song to sing at the end of the old year, and to usher in the new, in my honest opinion, is that “cup of kindness,” because, no matter what has happened in the past, whether recent or auld lang syne, we can find something hopeful, something kind to think about in those moments. I love that about this song. The hurt, the heartache, the pain, and confusion – they’re all very real – people we have loved and lost – are very real. But at midnight, we get another chance to look at things through a different perspective, we get a chance to find something good in the situation. What a gift! What a dream come true! What a moment to look forward to. For each od us. Each and every year. Forever.
With that line in mind, then, let me offer a few words.
Yes, 2022 certainly threw us some curves. More things than I care to name here and now. But in the grand scheme, those things are also not so horribly important. Because they are about to become yesterday’s heartaches, shortcomings, and disappointments.
But here is to 2023 and some rather specific hopes as a new year begins: to no orthopedic adventures/misadventures; to no lost or passing felines or friends; to writing our best words and being our best selves, even if that means lots of drafts and edits; to new adventures, through words and deeds; and to being weird enough to laugh when the world is laughing, choosing to laugh with the friends around us, rather than thinking we’re part of a joke.
And, personally, I’m praying that 2023 holds homes for my words. I have resumed working on the story and poetry collection this week that I have been working on off and on for a few years now. And I’m working my way through notebooks looking for pieces for the memoir which my dear friend Denton Loving is mentoring me to get into shape. Counting pages. Never getting to 100. But I will. And when I do, I’ll have a brief celebration, then move on to the next stage of “birthing” it into the world. I feel like it is going to be the longest pregnancy in literary history, but I have the most patient and giving midwives in the universe.
Love, light, and lots of laughter to you all,