Auld Lang Syne

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

~Mark Twain

As we approach the end of another year our thoughts turn to times past and we start to wax nostalgic. Auld lang syne. Times long past. We think of people we’ve known, people who have gone out of our lives, either by drifting away, by moving on, or by death. We think of family, friends, and our dear pets. We remember loved ones who are gone, we recall the way they looked, the way they spoke and the way they laughed. A laugh is just as individual as fingerprints; no two are exactly alike.

For whatever reason, one of the cruel jokes of the human condition is the assumption that certain things will always be there for us. Intellectually of course we know that nothing lasts forever, but in the din of our busy lives we forget. Well, we don’t really forget exactly, we forget to appreciate what we have when we have it. We take for granted that mom will always be there for us, waiting with a smile. We take for granted that dad will help us get through any of life’s problems. Don’t worry; dad will know what to do. Our sister, our brother, yes, they’re always around. Always just a phone call away. Really? Always? Forever?

For those of us of a certain age some things were taken as givens. We just assumed that The Ed Sullivan Show would always be on television Sunday evenings and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson would always be on every week night. I never doubted that general interest magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Life would for all time be available at any newsstand. Never mind the magazines, what happened to the newsstands?

I never considered that major department stores like Bullocks, I. Magnin, Robinsons, and The May Co. would someday be gone. How could all these big department stores disappear? Even Chicago’s Marshall Fields is gone. Did anyone 15 years ago think that record stores would be a thing of the past? Now it seems that book stores are on the endangered list.

Times long past. Who knew that the movie industry would stop making cowboy pictures? Did anyone 10 years ago believe that finding a telephone booth in a large city would almost be impossible? The things you think will last forever will not. Everything has a self life. Just like a container of milk, your mother, your husband, your wife, and yes, even you will all expire someday. Happy New Year, are you deeply depressed yet? Well, don’t be. That’s life.

The important thing is to appreciate. Appreciate what you have now. Sure, think of times long past. Auld lang syne. Remember those wonderful old times. Remember your loved ones who are gone and miss them. Have a good cry. But then don’t forget to appreciate the loved ones who are still with you now. Call your friends and get together with them. Spend time with your family. Enjoy what you have and who you have. Do something nice for someone. Hug your son. Kiss your mom. Laugh with your brother.

The end of the old year is a good time to reminisce but at the stroke of midnight a new year will begin and New Year’s is the time for beginnings, not endings. Begin this year with love and appreciation for the family, friends, and pets that you have. Like the proverbial annual resolution, none of them will last forever, but if you make the most of them while you have them, then your New Year’s cup will be full for the entire year.

Happy 2011!

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