Six years ago today, I was kicking up my heels at an honest-to-goodness castle in County Sligo, Ireland, celebrating the wedding of one of my best friends from college. C, an Irish Italian gal born and raised in Long Island, New York, married the handsome Irishman she met when she and her mother were visiting her mother’s ancestral village.
Eight years ago, I was listening to the distant banging of voodoo drums in rural southwestern Haiti, where I was spending the holiday break on a mission trip. New Year’s Day is Haiti’s independence day, and there’s nothing like spending a holiday in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere to provide a little perspective.
Three years ago, I enjoyed New Year’s Eve in the Florida Keys with different college friends—including C’s ex-husband and his wife and stepsons. We toasted in the new year while lounging on the deck, overlooking the peaceful, warm Gulf of Mexico.
Last year, I was in Buffalo, New York, spending a relaxing New Year’s Eve with another good friend. Her kids were spending the holiday with their dad, R’s ex-husband. I braved the road trip between snow falls, and we enjoyed a long weekend of movies in the theater (The Blind Side) and at home (Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally), eating out, playing games with R’s brother (Balderdash), and feasting on yummy appetizers that we spent the afternoon preparing together (pigs in a blanket, stuffed mushrooms, spinach artichoke dip).
This year, like many others, I will spend a quiet New Year’s Eve at home. This afternoon, I’m meeting a friend for a late lunch and bookstore browsing, but plan to be home, cozy in my own house, before the evening is very far along. I have a stack of books and DVDs that await me, and I imagine I’ll watch the ball drop over Times Square at midnight before heading to bed.
Tomorrow, a friend will drive in from Philadelphia, and on Sunday morning, we will drive together to Cleveland to attend the memorial service for a mutual friend’s father, who died three days before Christmas.
Another year ends, a new one begins, and life goes on. I’m grateful to be alive to experience the transition. And I’m beyond grateful to have old times and old friends to remember and celebrate, and new experiences and friendships to look forward to.
The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships.
Auld lang syne,* my friends. Happy New Year!
*Harry: What does this song mean? For my whole life I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean if we happen to forget them we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them!?
Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.