Ever since I was a kid, I have listened to the song, Auld Lang Syne (translated to mean “times gone by”). I remember my family always ending the year by watching Guy Lombardo and waiting for the countdown to the New Year, as the ball in Times Square dropped. I’m not sure I ever really understood the lyrics, but the song always depressed me. “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” These words have been stuck in my head for years. What way is that to start off a New Year? Should we be thinking about people and past relationships, including those that ended badly? Or is it a resolve never to think of them again? I really never knew the answer.
As usual, I did a little research to try to put this haunting song to rest, at least in my mind. This is what one article had to say: “The question it asks is clear: Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought of? Should old times past be forgotten? No, says the song, they shouldn't be. We'll remember those times and those people, we'll toast them now and always, we'll keep them close. "We'll take a cup of kindness yet."“
So all these years it sounded to me like the song was telling us to forget our past and the people in it and move on in the New Year. But no, it’s a song reminding us not to forget days gone by and to remember those who were in our lives and those that are still part of our lives, keeping them all fondly in our memories. And, considering how many people are no longer in our lives, for one reason or another, it’s still seems sad to me.
It’s true we all have wonderful, happy memories of the past to cling to, but this song reminds me those times are over. We can never go back in time, recreate special days or spend time with loved ones who have left this world. We can rarely mend a broken relationship, even if the person is still around, and make it what it once was. For me it’s often sad to reminisce because I feel a sense of loss.
I often write about my past experiences and loved ones. I know if I don’t, a lot of my memories will fade in time. Sometimes it’s a bit painful to write about certain events, but I do it anyway because it’s cathartic and it’s kind of a legacy for my girls. It gives them a chance to “know” me better from my past and to know about our family members that they never met or were too young to remember. Some memories make me laugh, others make me cry. But I don’t want any of them to be lost or stolen by time.
So maybe the song is right, maybe there is some wisdom in remembering people from our past who have contributed in some way, big or small, to who we are today. And maybe we can even remember the good times shared with those who hurt us or treated us badly, and think kindly of them and toast to the moments of joy they managed to give us? I’m going to give it a try this New Year’s Eve. How about you?