I have always hated New Years Eve and New Years Day. As a child it meant the end of the holidays and back to school. As an adult it still means the end of the holidays and back to work (and school in different periods of my life—which really sucked). It has always been a very depressing holiday for me, and still is. Poor old Happiness (see previous post) is going to spend a lonely evening tonight and not much attention paid to him tomorrow either.
Google does not share my gloom, they have a clever masthead going today.
One of the things I used to absolutely despise as a child was that damned Auld Lang Syne, and Guy Lombardo’s version of it specifically. You can hear a good rendition of it on YouTube, Auld Lang Syne by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians. There are several other videos on YouTube featuring Guy “conducting” his band. They are rather humorous. For the most part, good old Guy does an in place dance with his back to the band and the baton is often pointing at the floor. From what I could see, Guy could have left the room and the band would have done fine without him. Much of my distaste for Guy Lombardo’s Auld Lang Syne is generational. My parents were into big band music and had various records by Glenn Miller and others of the era. I hated that genre of music as a child. Oddly I was not all that big of a rock and roll fan either, but I detested big band music and hated to the core of my being Guy Lombardo’s Auld Lang Syne. It was the theme song to the END OF THE HOLIDAYS AND BACK TO SCHOOL. Nothing to celebrate in my opinion.
I can’t say that I am too keen on the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne:
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old 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.
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 till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend ! And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.
(Auld lang syne means roughly for old time’s sake.)
So have I grown up? Not really, I still find New Years to be very depressing, and I dislike Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. I despise the Time’s Square scenes and that dumb lighted ball with all the technical descriptions—like I care how many light bulbs it has, how heavy it is, or how fast it moves. The end of the holidays are upon us and people are making a big deal about some stupid lighted ball dropping—as though time would stop if the damned thing got hung up. I hate the party hats, horns, depictions of the old year carrying the scythe, and baby new year in diapers and a top hat. So it turns out that I am a New Year’s Scrooge…”if I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with Happy New Years on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with the stem of a martini glass through his heart.”
I am changing, painfully slowly, but I have come to have a vague appreciation for the reason of the festivities, beyond an excuse to get drunk, even though I can not cotton to a celebration of the end of Christmas, the return to work, and dismal old January with its Pittsburgh shit weather.
The beginning of this new found albeit weak appreciation can be attributed to oddly enough Auld Lang Syne—a newer rendition of it by Mannheim Steamroller. You can hear it here: YouTube Mannheim Steamroller Auld Lang Syne. What I find a bit strange is that the new version has given me an appreciation for Guy Lombardo’s version—well a feint appreciation. It still inspires the memory of the dread for the return to school. Again, why are we celebrating?
When I listen to the Mannheim Steamroller version, I get this weird Déjà vu when the choral part begins. In my imagination I am transported to a large hall in a Scottish castle in World War II. The room is only lit by candles and there is a large crowd of elegantly dressed women and men in British uniforms. My guess is that it is New Years Eve of 1940. The war is not going well. Everyone is standing singing the chorus to Auld Lang Syne and although their faces betray the weariness of the war, there is hope in their eyes. Very weird, it is like I was there. Maybe something I seen in a movie as a child.
Another reason for my new found “appreciation” for New Years is that 2011 promises to something of a momentous year for me. I plan to retire in May. My wife and I were at the financial planner yesterday. We got her blessing and what appears to be a good long range plan for financial viability. I should be ecstatic, yet I find myself oddly gloomy regarding the whole enterprise. It is without a doubt time to leave work. I will be glad to be out of that rat race. However, retirement is something of a threshold to an era in which I really do not want to participate. I find myself at the doorway of old age and retirement strikes me as the official ribbon cutting ceremony of the final chapters of a story that is guaranteed not to have a happy ending.
So I have a dim appreciation for the celebration of New Years. But…well, I just don’t know. Can old dogs learn new tricks?
It’s New Years! I am going to retire! Happiness is calling, but I feel a genuine reluctance to pull out that comfortable chair.
Lyrics: Wikipedia.org, Auld Lang Syne