Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Happy Hogmanay to all my Scots friends.  (Happy New Year, or more accurately, Happy Eve of the New Year, to the rest of you.)

And in traditional Scots, May the best ye hae ivver seen be the warst ye’ll ivver see.  (Translation: May the best you’ve ever seen be the worst you’ll ever see.  Martin Frost)

Auld Lang Syne, thought to be the most popular and well-known song in the entire world, is sung in some version in Peru, Chili, Finland, China, France, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Korea, The Maldives, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sudan, Taiwan, Zimbabwe and Thailand, to name but a few.

It has been sung in countless movies including It’s a Wonderful Life.

And, of course, Jimi Hendrix gave it his magical electric guitar spin in his performance of December 31, 1969 at the Fillmore East.  Hendrix died in 1970.

Having spent a year interning in Scotland as a student minister, I have heard the song played and sung many times.  But my best memory is the celidh (dance, pronounced kay-lee) held in my honor at the end of my time in Greenock.

After a night of trampling on the feet of good-natured partners (I am an enthusiastic, but talentless dancer), we ended, as is traditional, with Auld Lang Syne.  For me that night, it was not simply the ending of a good night of fun, but the end of a time magical . . . a saying of good-bye to friends and colleagues and to a wonderful, blessed time of learning and growth, restful care and challenge.

The clasping of hands, the approach and retreat of the ‘dance’ of the entire room in one large circle, was symbolic of so much more than I can put into words . . . coming close and retreating away my literal coming into and going away from the lives of so many incredible, kind, giving, good people (with typical Scottish reserve, they will cringe at my very-American excess of language, but it’s all true).

And so to Bill (The Very Reverand William Hewitt) and Moira and family . . . to Liz and Idris and the crew . . . to Stuart and Patricia, Christine and family, to Ann and Anna, Bob, Allison and the kids, Susan, Cath and Jim, Campbell, Nessie and Douglas, Ian, Monica, Les, Ruth, Ishbel, Margaret, Fraser, Ida, Ricky, Marion and George, Liz, Gordon, Morag, wee Kirstie, Peter and Ann, and so many others . . .

To Wilma and John and all the ones who have gone on before . . .

I’ll nae be thir tae see it, but dance a dance and drink a wee cup for me, dear friends.

All your kindness to this strange American in your midst, I will never forget.  Oh, and put a cuppa on, for I’ll be home soon.  Love, Beth


  1. I'm havin a wee greet reading this! Beautiful words. Can't wait til you're home - the kettle's on.
    And a very guid new year to you and yours. xxx

  2. Cannae wait!!!!! Love & hugs & all wonderful things, dear friend.

  3. Happy Hogmanay dear Beth,you would bring a tear to a glass eye with these nice words. Great news you are coming over the pond soon. Good timing I could do with a listening ear. Talk soon. All the very best to you and yours in the New Year. love from all the Websters