Skip to main content

Backward Glances: Auld Lange Syne

Another Christmas so long awaited has come and gone; no more carols on the radio, nor cheery greeting cards at the post box. After devouring huge plates of  turkey and dressing, followed by pumpkin pie and rich pudding, all in about 45 minutes flat, I felt somewhat guilty knowing all the preparation the meal had required. The cooks must share something in common with the athlete who has worked and trained for long periods,  culminating in an event that may well be over in mere minutes. Mind you, win or lose the athlete doesn’t then face a table full of dirty dishes.

So now, with any remaining turkey in the soup pot, we realize that New Year’s Eve is upon us. Following usual laments of;  “How could the year have gone so quickly?” and, “I didn’t get half the things done that I’d planned.” we ask each other; “What are we doing for New Year’s Eve?” followed by …“I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Welcoming in the New Year is one of our annual rituals that seems to have changed, and even fallen on hard times over the years.  

I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that many now celebrate rather quietly. Dinner and a movie is the choice of some, with others gravitating to the homes of friends or family for an evening of nibbling and sipping, with perhaps  a few card games or charades to enliven the countdown to midnight. Many claim not to bother staying up long enough to see the old year ushered out. What a change from the old days!

When I was young, New Year’s Eve was the community social event of the year.  In Winfield virtually everyone went to the Memorial Hall to party, dance  and socialize the night away. As kids, we loved the morning following, wearing the bright party hats and playing with the noisemakers that our parents had brought home from the party. For some reason, I remember Mom and Dad rising much later than usual, and not enjoying the noisemakers as much as we were.     

I’m not aware that there are many such major socials in Lake Country anymore. If people party-in the New Year they’re more likely to be at someone’s home, at a pub or restaurant. The other day while reminiscing with cousin Faye Stowe about the old days she theorized the reason for this change. As she said, in our parents’ day most everyone in the community knew each other. My parents would join hers at a table that likely included the McCarthys, the Moodys, the Chatos, the Jardines and Fochlers and others. The nearby tables would be filled with more friends and family, acquaintances and maybe a handful of strangers. A New Year’s party or a community dance brought together virtually everyone who lived here. 

Perhaps our lives are just too busy now, we’re worn out by so many pre-Christmas socials, or we just don’t know nor care to meet our neighbours. Whatever the reason, I envy that older generation who loved to dance and to party and to join hands with so many others at midnight to sing Auld Lang Syne. 

Happy New Year everyone.

Source: Rich Gibbons. Director, Lake Country Museum Society.

Richard Gibbons’ column Backward Glances was originally published in The View.