The time for Christmas carols has passed, unless you are an ardent true believer in the Twelve Days of Christmas and still have cause for celebrating the birth of Jesus. For those of us who are not so traditional or who are less inclined to see any spiritual significance to the December holidays, there is still one more carol to sing. This one is attributed to the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who openly admitted that he borrowed from an existing folk song, when he penned the words to his poem Auld Lang Syne nearly three hundred years ago.
Burns’ Scottish dialect is hard to pronounce, let alone understand. The version we now sing on New Year’s Eve is a more civilized, as in Anglicized, interpretation save for the oft repeated phrase Auld Lang Syne. Even here we tend to screw things up by pronouncing the last word with a “z”, as in zine, instead of with an “s”, like sign. But who cares? We are generally happy, with a touch of sentimentality in our tone, and likely retaining the one true element of Burns’ poetic imagery by hoisting a cup of some kind of liquid refreshment and drinking to the days gone by.
That cup, whatever its contents, may also retain the Burns insistence on kindness – that is for those of us who are not members of Congress, Antifah or the current administration. It is extremely hard, in fact, to reconcile the thought of kindness as a primary motivating factor behind any of the news that the media outlets, be they mainstream or also rans, present to us on a steady, even unyielding, basis. So maybe it is best to stay local with the people who are truly important to you and celebrate the good times, which have left you with good memories of this and every prior year of your lifetime, whatever its duration.
Lamenting the passage of time and our inclination to focus so intently on our current problems that we forget about who and what was important to us not so long ago appears to be a natural part of the human psyche. Prior to Burns another poet borrowed from the same folk tune and wrote about our tendency towards selective amnesia and asked “Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold, that loving Breast of thine, that thou canst never once reflect on old long syne?” Tweak these words written by James Watson in 1711 to reflect today’s calloused jargon and you will have an ode to isolation and disillusionment in keeping with much of what we currently hear in our pop culture renderings.
But this is the season to defy the spirit of all things dark and sinister. My advice is to find that cup which holds the magic elixir of kindness and drink your fill. Let it stimulate the memory of what a sweet Heart and a loving Breast most hold dear and use it to counter the inevitable assaults on the peace and good will we earnestly desire and also sing about at this time of year. Sorrow and selfish ambition may hold the media captive in their presentation of what is supposed to pass as news, but be of good cheer. You can overcome the media, if you choose. The “On” button on your remote also has the power to turn things “Off.” Once you have accomplished that feat, take a cup of kindness yet for your own sake as well as for the benefit of others.
God bless ye merry, everyone.