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Monday, December 31, 2012

Times long past: New Year’s Eve and the value of reflection

“Auld Lang Syne” is the song everyone recognizes, but doesn’t quite understand. The words aren’t really as important as the title, which translates from Scottish as “Old days long ago”, or “times long past”- depending on your source.  
And the words of the song we sing here in the U.S.:

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.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

There is also a song by Dan Fogelberg called “Same Old Lang Syne” which is quite stirring. Dan’s song talks about lost love and reflection on things that might have been, and never will be. That is very apropos because more than any other night of the year, New Year’s Eve is a great time to reflect on the past, and then to put it aside at the stroke of midnight.
New Year’s Eve brings up powerful emotions and memories for me, some very sad and some very happy.

Consider New Year’s Eve 1979, when I was pregnant with my first son, and was about to give birth. He was born a few days later on 3 January 1980.
Or New Year’s Eve 1985, my beloved grandmother passed away from cancer.

And coming full circle, I got engaged to my husband, David, on New Year’s Eve 2010.

For the most part, my New Year’s Eves have been pretty uneventful. I am not a night owl and I can’t even remember how many times I was in bed and asleep before midnight.
As a child, my parents (two die-hard night owls) would have great festivities for my sister and me, and any other guests they might have invited. My mother always prepared a beautiful meal, usually a standing rib roast with all the trimmings, and we would stay up until midnight. At the stroke of midnight, we had some interesting rituals.

As I have mentioned before, my father is from Cuba, and it seems that in Cuba, at the stroke of midnight, one throws a bucket of water out the front door to bring in the new year. Also, we all had to eat twelve grapes, one for each month of the New Year. That sounds great except they almost always had seeds in them.

I have always loved New Year’s Eve because it signals endings, quickly followed by beginnings. It is an opportunity to reflect on things that happened and to gather the lessons learned to begin anew.

Reflection is critical to growth. The past year may have been filled with mistakes, disappointments, upsets, and hurts. There may also have been triumphs, joy, good fortune, and improvements. Probably there was a combination of both. The value of reflection is in gathering the knowledge and insights that were gained from the experiences of the past 12 months and to apply them to the next 12.
Tonight, I will be savoring the lessons, experiences, adventures, and memories of 2012. I will reflect upon what happened and extract the goodness. I will also reflect on all that I am grateful for and the many, many, blessings in my life.

 I will think of all my loved ones who are no longer here, and I will then think of and say a prayer for my beloved family and friends. But I am ever mindful of tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day and a brand new year. Let’s hope, for all of our sakes, it is a VERY GOOD new year.

I wish each and every one of you all the best in 2013. May your year be filled with wonder, good health, joy, and wisdom.

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