I know I’m a day late on a New Year’s related post but it was hard to sort through the noise of the event itself and come up with a relevant topic. New Year’s Eve has, for me, traditionally been a time when I eat some junk food and go to bed by 10pm. When I was working I just couldn’t stay up that late. Last year, I stayed awake until midnight just so I could say to myself, “next year when I welcome the New Year, I’ll be retired”. This year, staying up was no problem as I have lapsed into my natural, but long abandoned, sleep cycle of going to bed at about 1am and waking around 10am. My retirement sleep schedule. So Sue went to bed at 10pm as per usual, and I watched documentaries on Netflix as per usual, and my best friend Kess (our downstairs apartment roomie) watched a documentary about the Donner party. An appropriate end, I thought, to our metaphorical national devouring of one another in 2016.
New Year’s Day was full of cooking our traditional breakfast and dinner, walking the dog and putting away Christmas decorations. And here I am, January 2nd already. The year 1/365th gone. And I woke up thinking today that I had not once heard anyone play “Auld Lang Syne” this year. I heard about the Mariah Carey debacle. But no old acquaintance be forgot. “Auld Lang Syne” is actually my favorite part of New Year’s Eve. The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote the poem “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788. I tried to read Sue the original version with Scottish words intact and it lead to much hilarity here. “And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! and gie’s a hand o’ thine! And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught, for auld lang syne”. My Scottish language skills clearly need some polishing.
Anyway, there are two things so far that stand out to me as the very best things about being retired. The first is the gift of time. The ability to figure out who I am and what I want to do with this incredible luxury of time while I have good health. But the second thing is that with this gift of time I have been able to restore, and now nurture, relationships with friends I have made over my lifetime. People I love and who mean a great deal to me, but have been separated from me due to the vagaries of life, distance and so forth. My feelings for these people never dwindled, but sat in my heart in a state of sleepy hibernation. Overwhelmed by my focus on work, my immediate family, and day to day necessities they languished.
But now, I find myself opening up old friendships like the best and longest lasting Christmas morning of all time. I think it both wise and rewarding to heed the warning of Auld Lang Syne, that time is short and old acquaintances should not be forgotten. There are people I know with whom I have shared some of my life’s happiest, saddest, and most challenging times. That is a connection of inestimable value.
I look forward to new friendships and memories in my life, but I honor the ones I have already lived and the people with whom I lived them. This past year or two, I have asked people near and far, people I knew as a teenager, people I knew at work, people I knew from college, to come back into my life. Perhaps not in so many words, but by making time, and reaching out. And without a single exception, everyone has responded in kind. Every single one. So I think of my friends today and want you to know how grateful I am to know you and to have you in my life. For all we’ve shared and all we will share, I toast you this New Year!
“We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine; But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne. We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun til dine, But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne. And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.”