One of the many fun customs of New Year's Eve celebrations is the singing of the ancient song "Auld Lang Syne" (Old Long Since).
The song: "Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne [loosely 'for old times' sake"]?"
The idea is nostalgic and relational. You picture a pair of Scotsmen toasting a cup of ale to each other as they render the song loudly. The writer doesn't want to forget the past or his friendships -- and since its sung on the New Year's holiday, the idea conveyed is that it's important to look back before looking ahead and to bring the old spirit of togetherness into this new time of possibility.
As we think of resolutions for the new year, many of us may also scoff quietly, knowing that a third of us will have fallen off the wagon by the end of January alone. Many of the promises made are not kept or even achieved during the course of the year. Most New Year's resolutions generally have to do with personal improvement. I think we'd have a better chance of holding on if we focused instead on the warm memories and cherished moments that friendship often brings to us, even while we find new ways to improve on them.
On New Year's Day, I spoke with two-long time friends from school on a three-way call that went from New York City to Chattanooga and back out to Los Angeles. The California friend was absolutely delighted to hear from us and launched into a quick update about herself after spattering us with excited questions. The call was eventually cut short by the tearful ire of her infant son, but the connection felt so strong, so good, and so warm. It was a great reminder of the life and times from auld lang syne, our college years.
After the call, I continued talking with the remaining chum about the difficulty of making and maintaining friendships in later years. Even while the power and joy they bring to us stood evident, friendships are too easily disrespected, devalued, and left to fend for themselves.
I think of the connections I've neglected with the passing of time or busyness or perceived differences, and the new friendships yet to be cultivated, and have found that my main desire this new year is to simply spend the time needed to continue creating lasting memories with others.
I want to make sure that above meetings, activities, and a host of things to cross off my to do list, that I chisel out consistent space to speak to people, get to know someone new, exercise with someone, hear random people's stories, eat more dinners with acquaintances, and to simply enjoy being with others. And in the years to come, I hope to sing about them again and again.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a licensed counselor, speaker, and free-lance writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.