whmsShould auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

In the New Year’s scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally, while “Auld Lang Syne” plays, Harry asks, “What does this song mean? My whole life I don’t know what this song means.”

As often as I have hummed the classic melody, I never bothered memorizing the words, but liked the sound of “tak a cup,” and “pu’d the gowans.” If Harry had asked me, I would have answered, “Glad to have the past over and done with.” And New Year’s Day? I was glad to have survived 2018. Let those bygones be bygones. However, to link willful forgetting with “Auld Lang Syne” is to miss the point of the song.

Remember Sally’s answer to Harry’s question? “It’s about old friends.”

In these first days of January, I’ve taken time with Robert Burns’ version of the old Celtic song. Each verse is memory’s celebration: walk into the pubs of the past, hear the fiddle play, let the keg’s drink flow.

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!


Where kindness thrived this past year, celebration involved food and drink. My sister Mary and I enjoyed tea in her small garden shared by gnomes and clay squirrels. Panera’s booth and Fehrenbacher Hof’s table were perfect places to rekindle old friendships. At my home, friends gathered for foamy coffee and blueberry muffins. This autumn, neighbors and family brought Gala and Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Fuji apples to my niece’s home for a Cider Mill Party, and together we watched fruit churn into tart juice. For sure, my brother Michael never fails to raise his glass at every holiday meal and say “Cheers.”

ireland-2We twa hae ran about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.

My photo albums chart the miles I have walked: braes of Nova Scotia and trails near Lake Louise. In mountain meadows, the gowans—daisies and wildflowers—tempted me, but I left them unpicked. In early September I will once again visit Ireland, not to Galway, my grandfather’s land, but to the Glens of Antrim, my grandmother’s home. May the time be filled with “monie” a mile and with the spirit of Mary McElheran. The New Year, 2019, will be a good time to raise a cup of thanks for old roads traveled and new ones right around the bend.

lamplight-2On an evening walk, I noticed the lamplight ahead shone steady, while at a distance a light flickered in a window; a symbol, perhaps, of the diminishing past and the brightening future. “Auld Land Syne” asks something more from those of us who sing along: don’t forget auld experiences and memories—no matter what form they take. Think of them as embers to blow upon. The flicker becomes a flame and the flame becomes a torch, guiding us from bygones to beginnings.


5 thoughts on “Bygones

  1. Hello Kiddio!

    THANKS for your reverie and for helping mine. And Happy Birthday a day early!

    So glad you were born, that I’ve gotten to know you and that you are blessed

    w being able to put words together so beautifully.

    We are waiting to hear from the Stanford GI specialist if he can figure out what

    is causing Chris’ retching…an every other day occurrence lately. …say some

    prayers to St. Jude assuming he is still on the job 😊.

    Sending love,


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your title and the depth of this—from When Harry met Sally 🙂 to Robert Burns.
    A “cup of kindness” is very much needed for us all.
    Lots of quotations and your wonderful phrasing to think about, thanks for the inspiration!
    What beautiful memories you have from your get-togethers and travels, and the illumination of looking forward to new experiences.
    Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a fun blog to write, so thank you for your comments, Shirley. Our memories are precious, aren’t they? Looking forward to the time we can sit down over a cup of coffee and share auld acquaintances! Health, humor, happiness to you this new year.


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