Auld Lang Syne

People who know me well know that my favorite traditional holiday is New Year’s Eve, and my favorite part is singing Auld Lang Syne with people. The lyrics vary; here’s how I sing it:

Should Auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should Auld acquaintance be forgot
For days of Auld Lang Syne

For Auld Lang Syne my dears
For Auld Lang Syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For days of Auld Lang Syne

And there’s a hand my trusty friend
And give a hand of thine
We’ll take a right good-will draught
For days of Auld Lang Syne

For Auld Lang Syne my dears
For Auld Lang Syne
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For days of Auld Lang Syne

I want you to know why that song means so much to me, because every New Year’s Eve, I think of you when I sing it.

On New Year’s Eve we drink a toast – “take a cup of kindness” – to days long ago. The good times in our memories, the good friends in our memories, those who are there, and those who are not. But it is more than that – the song is about more than that. It is about the days long ago that we don’t remember. If you and I had a great adventure, or a wonderful hour together, and I remember it fondly, I will be drinking to the memory. To our memory. And to you. But here’s the thing:

What if I forgot?

I’m over fifty years old. So many memories. So much moving away from people, or having people move away from me… I can’t hold them all. I can’t even hold enough. I may have forgotten our best time together… and to my horror, I may have forgotten you. But on New Year’s Eve, I’m drinking to you, especially to you, my beautiful, perfect, unremembered auld acquaintance.

We shared a joke, or an eye-roll, or a tense moment, or we studied for an exam together, or shared a pizza at one of Phil Goldberg’s parties, Debbie Neal’s, Pat & Carrie’s, Mike & Margaret’s, Ed & Jackie’s, or got into a dangerous situation, or you gave me a ride on my trip from Mo I Rana to Narvik, or Stuart and I played on the giant spiderweb with you and Greg Tortaglia in first grade, or you gave me a quarter when I was obviously short at the vending machine, or we were sitting next to each other on an airplane and we realized we were both from Long Island and our accents came back as we started making jokes. We had a nice conversation that I’ve forgotten all about – when I’d knocked on your door when I was running for school board, when I was campaigning for Bob Kressig, when I was giving away extra tomatoes because my mom didn’t want to waste them, when I was selling Greeting Cards for my elementary school, chocolate bars for the debate team, trees for Israel, advertising space in an air-cargo directory. (Thanks for answering the door) We shared a table at Cup of Joe because it was full and strangers had to share, we chatted while waiting in line for the same movie when I was in high school, college, grad school, teaching last summer. We met at the AIN conference in Austin, Montreal, SoCal, Stony Brook, in nursery school when everyone got a tiny bar of soap, when for some reason we were walking each other home when we were both too drunk to stand.

Today is December 31. Within the first five minutes of January 1, I’m going to be drinking a toast to you and our time together, and I will be loving you. But before I do that, my friends and acquaintances, my auld ones and new ones, my remembered ones and especially my forgotten ones, I will be singing a song about how much I treasure that time we shared. And maybe you will be drinking to that time as well, and we will be together again in that moment.

I love New Years Eve.