Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld lang syne

by John D Ramsey

When we lived in Minnesota, fireworks were illegal which heightened my joy when Daniel and I launched mortars at midnight New Year's Eve. At that time, I still wore a wristwatch, and earlier in the evening, I would synchronize it with the US Naval Observatory master clock. As the time neared midnight, I would watch the second hand, and Daniel would light the fuse on my mark. After a couple years, Minnesota relaxed its laws against fireworks, and so our midnight volleys ended.

Tonight as the clock reaches midnight, I will be sitting inside. The little girls will be asleep in bed. Lisa may be reading, watching television, or sleeping. I will be awake, but I do not have any fantastic plans. I have already commemorated 2008. In the darkness of the basement family room, tonight I cried for Mom.

January 1 is a capricious choice for New Year’s Day. The winter solstice occurred December 21. The new moon occurred December 27. Whatever astronomical alignment indicates midnight December 31, it is subtle by comparison. Yet western civilization commemorates the earth’s arrival at this arbitrary point in space calling it January 1. Lisa tells me that tonight astronomers will add a leap second to the calendar. Regardless of how arbitrary the choice, our commemoration of the moment must be precise. Moreover, regardless of the arbitrariness of the date, it releases an extant emotional response within the sentimental — to each his own Auld Lang Syne.

Someone long ago determined that today was the year’s end, and so tonight, I sit in the darkness and cry for my loss. I also think of the great potential the next year holds.

It is good to remember, and it is good to hope for the future. In ancient Israel, the month of the exodus from Egypt commemorated the New Year. God told Moses, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.” Exodus 12:2 (NIV) The highlight of the month occurred at the full moon — the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The first Passover divided Israel’s history between the bondage of Egypt and the hope of the Promised Land.

Likewise, at the advent of a new year, we set aside what was, and renew hope for what will be. Year 2008 was a blessed year in many ways, and 2008 brought great sadness with Mom’s passing. Year 2009 promises new opportunities and will confront us also with its own challenges.

Tonight, however, I am thinking about the New Year’s Eve as a deeper metaphor.

1 comment:

  1. May 2009 be filled with much love and happiness for your family. I enjoy reading your words and the meaning that is in them. I am sorry for the loss your family experienced and I pray that you will have many happy memories as this year go by.