New Year’s Eve has become a pretty anticlimactic holiday for me. Exciting when I was very young, and my parents would wake me up to go bang pots and pans on the front porch at midnight, fun in my teens and 20s, hanging out with other friends. Today I hung out with my family, watched a movie with my brother, and now they’re all in bed. I went grocery shopping at 11:00, and stopped by work to see whether I could relieve anyone on the copy desk from duty for the last hour or so of the shift, so at least they could celebrate elsewhere if so inclined. But they’d finished early, so I came home. Now, with my brother camping out in the living room, I’m in for another night of hanging out in my dad’s study, watching shows on his computer that I’ve transferred from the TiVo or listening to music, while I work on my laptop. It’s 11:54 at the moment, and it’s just another night.
I don’t remember exactly the last time I made New Year’s resolutions — I’d say younger than eight years old, probably. My parents talked me into putting things on those lists like “Clean my room more often,” but the only resolution I remember coming up with on my own was, “Try more advanced experiments with my chemistry set.” But I think a good resolution this year would be to post to this blog more often.
I’m constantly composing essays in my head, thinking of the precise ways I might phrase whatever idea is knocking around my noggin at that particular time. I think like an editor, culling my thoughts and arranging them as though I’m readying them for presentation to someone else. But I rarely write this stuff down. After I’ve written something mentally in a way that seems lucid or persuasive to me, I feel satisfied. Whatever urge I have to present it to others dissipates once it’s finished to my satisfaction. I can understand why someone like J.D. Salinger might write novel after novel and just not bother to publish them — they’re finished to his satisfaction, so what’s the point of showing them to anybody else?
But as much as the urge dissipates for me, it’s never entirely gone. I have two or three dozen ideas for blog entries (or articles, or even books, were I driven enough to put in the time), and they just sit there, filed away in my mind. Occasionally, some of them slip behind the filing cabinet or I lose a key to a drawer and they’re more or less gone for good. It’s that permanent loss that bugs me more than anything. As satisfying as it is for me to engage in mental scribbling, slashing through words and reordering phrases to my heart’s content — it’s even better to look back on something I’ve written, that I’d forgotten about and find I still like. How much have I “written” that’s now irretrievable because I never bothered to transcribe it?
So, that’s my resolution. I may not keep it — odds are, I probably won’t — but the fact that I’ve written it down may spur me into some semblance of half-hearted action, right? Anyway
I don’t think I’ve never actually sung “Auld Lang Syne,” or even hung out with a group of people who were singing it, but I always think of it on New Year’s Eve. It’s a Scottish song, both words and music, and my genetic heritage is largely Scottish. The first time I heard it was in an “Our Gang” short — Alfalfa singing it with a group of people. Or Spanky, perhaps. Or both. But for years, when I heard, “Should old (auld) acquaintance be forgot,” I always thought the words were “Should all the quaintance be forgot.” So rather than a tribute to long departed friends, I thought it was a tribute to things that are quaint. Things having to do with old-fashined, small-town life, perhaps. It was slightly disappointing to learn the real words later.
This neighborhood seems about as quiet on New Year’s as my family is now, quietly snoring away. I heard a muffled firecracker or something in the distance at 12:03, by my clock, but that’s it. Happy new year.